Padilla Law Group, LLP

When can I sue my employer?

A workplace injury can bring your world to a crashing halt. Even a minor injury may hamper your ability to work and cause you pain and suffering that interferes with your daily life. In the hours and days following your injury, you may replay the accident in your mind, allowing your emotions to take over.

Certainly, you are not alone if you find yourself asking "what if?" What if you had been standing one foot to the right or left? What if you hadn't been wearing your safety harness? What if your coworker hadn't reacted quickly to stop the bleeding? All these questions may lead you to the decision to file a lawsuit against your employer.

Exclusive remedy

In California and other states, employees who are injured on the job are restricted under most circumstances from filing a civil lawsuit against their employers. This is because employers provide insurance coverage to provide medical care and lost wages to workers following on-the-job injuries, even if you are at fault for your accident. In return, you relinquish your right to sue if you suffer injuries doing your normal duties.

Nevertheless, there may still be circumstances under which you may have cause to take your employer to court, for example:

  • Your employer does not carry the insurance coverage the law requires.
  • Your injury resulted from your employer's intentional efforts to harm you.
  • You file a lawsuit against your company as a consumer if your injury resulted from a defective product manufactured by the company you work for.
  • Your employer attempts to conceal the connection between your injury or illness and some hazardous aspect of the job.

Workers' compensation may not be the exclusive remedy if the actions of a third party resulted in your injuries. For example, a construction worker who is injured when scaffolding collapses may file a lawsuit against the company that manufactured the defective scaffolding. If your job entails driving, you may have a third-party case if another driver causes an accident in which you suffer injuries.

In some cases, you may have to reimburse the insurance company for any benefits exceeding those that workers' compensation pays. This transaction may become very complicated, and you may find it difficult to understand why the insurance company is demanding payment from you. Having the assistance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney may clarify any questions you have and provide you with advocacy that will improve your chances of obtaining the maximum benefits you deserve.

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