Law Office of James M. Hoffmann Articles When Can an Employee File a Workers' Compensation Lawsuit?

When Can an Employee File a Workers' Compensation Lawsuit?

By James Hoffmann  Jul. 3, 2014 11:23a

The remedy of workers for job-related injuries is limited to workers' compensation according to the laws of many states. The only time employees can seek remedy in addition to workers' compensation is when there is intent to harm the employee by the employer. Employees are also prohibited from filing a lawsuit against another employee who caused the injury. Therefore, the only remedy of injured employees is the workers' compensation coverage, which is normally advantageous to injured employees since they receive assistance for health-related expenses, lost wages, and treatment. The coverage is also known as the "exclusive remedy" of employees.

Lawsuits can only be filed if it is not prohibited under the workers' compensation rules. This situation normally occurs when the injury is caused by a third party or any individual or group not connected to the company. A lawsuit can also be filed if the employer intended to harm the employee.

The provisions under the "exclusive remedy" rules of workers' compensation are normally applicable when state laws require employers to obtain workers' compensation insurance. This remedy is not available if the employer does not obtain workers' compensation insurance or is allowed by state laws not to acquire the insurance. A number of states also allow employees to refuse workers' compensation and opt to file a lawsuit against the employer. However, only a small number of states allow employees or employers to refuse being a part of the system.

Situations that allow injured employees to benefit from workers' compensation coverage and file a lawsuit against their employer.

  • Defective Product – This situation occurs when the injury of an employee was caused through the use of defective equipment due to inadequate training, warning or instructions on how the equipment is used. The fault will be placed on the third party. A lawsuit may be filed by the injured employee against the third party while receiving workers' compensation benefits.

  • Injury While Outside the Workplace – Employees can file a lawsuit against a third party if they are injured while working outside their place of work. The lawsuit can be filed against the third party and the employer of the third party.

  • Intentional Violation – The exclusive remedy rule under the workers' compensation system will not be applicable if the employee is intentionally harmed by the employer. The employee can sue the employer in this situation, which is specific since it should show that there was intent to harm on part of the employer.

  • Construction Hazards – Construction hazards is a common third party claim where an employee is injured in a construction site due to the negligent action of a third party. This normally happens at construction sites. The employer and third party can be sued by the employee.

The information provided shows some situations where the "exclusive remedy" stipulation cannot be applied as well as situations where an employer or third party can be sued by an employee. However, the information should not be considered as legal advice. It is recommended that you consult with a workers' compensation attorney find out if these situations are applicable in your case.

If you have been injured in the state of Missouri, contact that Law Office of Jame M. Hoffmann by calling (314) 361-4300 and request a free case evaluation.

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