You were in a workplace accident that left you seriously injured. To make the situation even more frustrating, you think it could have been avoided entirely had your employer been a little more careful with safety precautions around the workplace. Will you be able to sue your employer and get workers’ compensation benefits?
In most situations, you cannot file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against your employer while also seeking workers’ compensation benefits for the same workplace accident or injury. A key principle of most workers’ compensation programs and insurance policies is that using or filing for those benefits prohibits holding the employer or the parent company liable for damages. In fact, many workers don’t even have the option to explore a personal injury lawsuit at first. Instead, they must go through workers’ compensation and will only have a chance to sue if workers’ comp benefits are entirely denied.
The positive spin on workers’ comp blocking the use of a personal injury lawsuit is that liability is set aside. You could be the sole person responsible for your workplace accident and still be allowed to get workers’ comp benefits because the program doesn’t factor in blame or fault one way or the other.
Can You Ever Sue Your Boss for a Workplace Accident?
Under extremely rare circumstances, a court might allow you to sue your employer for a workplace accident while also getting workers’ comp benefits. Usually, there must be tangible evidence of egregious negligence or criminal wrongdoing for this situation to pan out, though.
For example, you suffer smoke inhalation injuries after a fire breaks out at work and, while attempting to flee, you discover that the fire escape has been blocked by a stack of heavy products. You can use workers’ compensation because your injuries happened at work and while on-the-clock. You can also probably use a personal injury claim against your employer for financial aid not given through workers’ comp because blocking a fire exit is both extremely negligent and criminal. A court would probably approve this secondary claim as a way of sending a message to employers, which would be that unforgivable negligence will cost them in the pocketbook.
What Sort of Damages Could You Get with a Lawsuit?
If you can file a personal injury claim against your employer for a workplace accident, then your damages would only be able to include those that were not covered by workers’ compensation benefits. That is to say, you cannot receive financial compensation twice for the same damage.
Imagine that you were approved for wage replacement benefits that provided 66% of your average weekly wages (rounded to the nearest whole for simplicity in this example) while you are unable to work. Your personal injury claim would only be able to demand the unpaid 34% as damages. Although, if there were future ramifications to your earning capacity that were not considered by the workers’ comp claim, then you could possibly seek additional future damages through that separate claim.
Figure Out Your Best Options with Our Help
Leonard Law Group in Chicago is always happy to hear from new and returning clients who need assistance after a workplace accident. As reputable and experienced workers’ comp attorneys, our team has seen just about every sort of workers’ comp situation, including the rare case in which both workers’ comp and personal injury claims were permitted simultaneously. To begin discussing your options with lawyers who genuinely care about your wellbeing, fill out an online contact form now.