Whether it’s a fall, respiratory illness, heavy machinery accident, or another injury, when it happens at work you assume your employer has workers’ compensation insurance that will cover the costs of your injuries and pay for things like medical expenses and lost wages. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning workers can collect benefits regardless of who was to blame for the accident. Generally, by filing a workers’ compensation claim, employees are barred from filing a separate lawsuit against their employer. However, there are a few exceptions for which employees can sue their employers for work-related illnesses and injuries.
By filing a personal injury lawsuit, the victim can collect money for damages beyond the limitation of the workers' compensation system. In some cases, this could mean compensation for non-economic, like pain and suffering, or even punitive damages. Some of the circumstances under which you are allowed to bring a lawsuit against your employer or other party for job-related injuries:
Intentional Employer Acts
You may be able to sue your employer for harm caused by their intentional acts if they have acted with the specific intent of harming you. Proving intentional harm in a workplace injury in New Jersey is a difficult standard to meet, but not impossible. A common example is an employer who takes a shortcut or removes a safety guard from a piece of equipment to save money or time. Because they acted with outright and intentional negligence, you may be able to file a lawsuit. However, remember that showing mere negligence is not sufficient. The act must be deliberate.
Your Employer Has No or Insufficient Workers’ Comp Insurance
Employers in almost all states are required to carry adequate workers’ comp insurance. In fact, New Jersey law requires all employers, who are not covered under federal programs, have workers’ compensation coverage or be approved for self-insurance. If they do not, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer to recover damages for your work-related injury or illness. Additionally, failure to maintain workers’ compensation insurance is considered a serious offense under the law and comes with hefty fines and penalties.
In some cases, you may also be able to sue a third party other than your employer who is partially responsible for your injury. Common examples of third-party lawsuits in addition to workers compensation claims are situations involving vehicle accidents. For example, suppose you suffer an injury in a car accident at work caused by defectives brakes on your work vehicle. In that case, you might be able to sue the manufacturer of those brakes, in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim. Other third-parties could be property owners, General Contractors, or individuals.
You have the right to file a claim for benefits after suffering a work-related injury; however, the process of actually obtaining benefits is a major challenge for most people. An experienced workers compensation attorney can handle your case and make sure you get the benefits you need to recover from your injury and get back to work.
Brandon J. Broderick, Workers Compensation Lawyers
At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we are dedicated to assisting clients throughout New Jersey and New York with their workers’ compensation cases. We have years of experience and the extensive resources you need to secure a fair case result. If you or a loved one has been injured at work, contact us immediately to understand your options.