Generally speaking, if someone’s actions, or their lack of taking action, end up getting you hurt, you can take them to court to collect damages. This is the basis of personal injury law. However, if you end up hurt because of your employer, things can get a bit murky. While the company’s workers’ compensation insurance should have you covered, there are some instances where you may want to go after the actual business. Unfortunately, this can be a challenge.
Workers’ Compensation Comes with a Tradeoff
This comes as a surprise to most people, but you usually can’t just sue your employer, even if they are at the root of your personal injury. Part of taking out workers’ compensation insurance means that a company enters into a kind of tradeoff with their employees. Basically, they take out the insurance for their employees, but pay the insurance to take the monetary liability if anything happens.
By accepting the workers’ compensation, you’re essentially saying you won’t be filing a lawsuit against your employer. Otherwise, there would be little reason for a company to get this type of insurance.
That being said, there are two exceptions to that rule we need to cover so you don’t accidentally miss out on getting the compensation you’re entitled to. First, though, let’s make it clear that no worker can be reckless and hope to collect damages later on. Believe it or not, many have tried getting hurt on purpose for an easy payday. Others have horsed around, ignored instructions or not worn proper safety gear and acted surprised when they didn’t get any money when things went bad.
Now, the same applies to your employer in a way. No business can expect workers’ compensation to cover them if they’re not supplying their employees with a safe environment. They can’t leave their staff vulnerable to injury without expecting to pay for it down the road.
Of course, this also means that your employer can’t intentionally harm you, or otherwise leave you to get injured without stepping in. This would be when intentional torts arise.
If you end up getting hurt while on the clock and think it was due to intentional behavior on your employer’s part, you’ll want to take them to civil court and hire an attorney who is experienced with tort law. Keep in mind, this can refer to emotional distress as well. If your employer is sexually harassing you or letting someone sexually harass you, for example, you don’t have to just take it.
The most common examples of intentional torts would be things like:
- • False imprisonment
- • Battery and Assault
- • Trespassing
- • Defamation
- • Fraud
- • Emotional Distress
- • Theft
It’s a good idea to always seek the advice of an attorney if you think any of the above applies to you. They’ll know whether or not you have an intentional tort case on your hands.
While a company’s insurance company usually compensates workers who are injured on the job, sometimes this isn’t where it ends. Instead, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer directly.