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.
If you are unable to work because of an accident on the job, it is always worth considering whether someone could be held liable for a work-related injury. The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum can examine the details of your case, answer your questions, and help you through your next steps. To speak with a member of our team, simply fill out the online contact form on this page.