Can You Sue for Getting Hurt on the Job?
The workplace is one of the most common locations for serious injuries in California. While construction sites and industrial facilities are commonly associated with serious workplace injuries, any job could result in a severe injury under the right circumstances.
These injuries can require significant medical treatment and they often result in the inability to maintain employment in the future. Because of this, the financial impact of a workplace injury is often steep.
Under California law, you are generally barred from filing a personal injury suit against your employer. Instead, the state requires employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage to their employees. This insurance system allows an injured worker to seek benefits without the need to file a lawsuit.
That being said, there are circumstances where you can file a lawsuit if you are hurt at work. For a thorough understanding of your rights following a workplace injury, contact a personal injury lawyer right away.
When you are barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit
The vast majority of workplace injuries will not lead to a viable lawsuit. That is because of the broad range of coverage under California’s workers’ compensation system.
A workers’ compensation claim is different from a personal injury lawsuit. When you file a negligence suit, you must show that the person responsible for your injury negligently caused the accident. If cannot show the defendant was at fault, you will not recover compensation.
In a workers’ compensation claim, the issue of the fault has no bearing on the case. You are entitled to pursue a claim as long as you meet the other eligibility requirements, regardless of fault. Because of the availability of these claims, you are barred from filing a lawsuit against your employer.
Exceptions to the workers’ compensation system
There are certain exceptions that could allow you to file suit after a workplace injury. In total, there are six situations where a personal injury claim could stem from a workplace injury. These exceptions include:
- Third-party complaints. If you are injured at work due to the negligence of your employer or a co-worker, you cannot file a negligence lawsuit. However, if a third party like a store customer or a passer-by injures you at work, you could proceed with a claim outside of the workers’ compensation system.
- Willful physical assault. You can file an injury lawsuit against your employer if they injure you during a willful physical assault.
- Fraudulent concealment. Fraudulent concealment occurs when an employer knows an employee was exposed to a hazardous substance on the job but failed to inform them. By fraudulently concealing this hazard, the employer could be on the hook for any injuries or illnesses that occur from contact with the hazardous material.
- Dual capacity injuries. You can file an injury lawsuit in limited circumstances where you are also a customer of your employer. For example, if you purchase an item from your employer that is available to the public, you could pursue an injury claim if the product’s defect resulted in your injury.
- Power press injuries. A very specific exemption is injuries suffered from power press machinery that do not comply with OSHA standards.
- Employers not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. If the employer lacked the necessary workers’ compensation coverage, it would be impossible to file a claim. Under these circumstances, you can sue your employer if their negligence caused your workplace injury.
Together, these exceptions are fairly uncommon. That does not mean you should not seek legal counsel after such an injury. Dedicated personal injury lawyers could evaluate your case and determine if any of these exceptions apply to you.
Discuss your options with a California injury attorney
It is important that you protect your legal rights after a workplace injury. While workers’ compensation coverage might be available in your case, there are other circumstances where a personal injury claim is your best chance for financial recovery.
At Ellis Injury Law, we are prepared to review your case and advise you if you are entitled to pursue an injury claim. If you have questions about your legal options, we can provide the answers. Schedule a free consultation with experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyers right away to learn more.