Workers' compensation laws create an "exclusive remedy" for employees to recover damages from an employer after an accident at work. Thus, an injured worker may not make a negligence claim against his or her employer or any fellow employee engaged by the same employer—even if an employer or coworker’s negligence caused the injury. However, employees who collect workers’ compensation benefits may be eligible to file an injury claim against a negligent third party.
Parties That May Be Sued After a Work Injury
While employees can collect payment for medical treatment and disability through workers’ compensation, these benefits may not be enough to cover the full cost of their injuries. A third-party claim allows an injured worker to recover medical expenses and lost wages, along with pain and suffering damages to cover the full costs of a severe injury.
Other than an employer or co-worker, employees can file a lawsuit against any negligent individual or company such as:
- Independent contractors. If an employee was injured by a coworker who is classified as an independent contractor or who works for a different employer, the workers’ compensation exclusive remedy provision does not apply.
- At-fault drivers. If an employee is injured in a car accident while performing work duties, he or she can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
- Manufacturers. Workers who are hurt due to a defective piece of equipment may sue the product’s manufacturer for negligence.
- Contractors. If an employee is injured while working on a construction site, he or she may have a claim against the general contractor or a sub-contractor.
- Property owners. If the injury was caused by a defective condition on the property, the owner of the land, building owner, or the company responsible for maintenance may be sued for negligence.
Have You Been Injured On The Job In Rhode Island?
If you've been hurt at work you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help work injury victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.