Can I Sue for My Injury if I Collect Workers’ Comp?
Our experienced workers comp attorneys understand that a workplace injury can be devastating – financially, personally and emotionally. And if your work related injury or illness was preventable – and/or caused by the carelessness or negligence of someone else – you may be especially, angry or frustrated.
Many injured workers have heard the “general rule” that when they have been injured at work, the only compensation you can receive is workers’ compensation. And most employers will be the first to try and tell their injured employee that worker’s comp is their “exclusive remedy” and that they cannot also bring a lawsuit.
But In Some Cases You CAN SUE in Addition to Workers Comp!
While in many situations the “general rule” that Workers’ Comp is your exclusive remedy is true – there are important exceptions where you MAY be able to sue for damages in addition to collecting your workers’ comp benefits.
This is significant to understand, because workers’ compensation disability payments are usually lower than you would receive in a lawsuit – and so workers comp alone simply may not provide enough for you to live on.
Also, while workers’ compensation does NOT provide compensation for pain and suffering and/or “punitive damages” a separate lawsuit may.
Exceptions Allowing Lawsuits in Addition to Workers Comp:
(1.) Injury at Work by a Defective Product
If you were injured at work by a defective product, you may be able to bring a “products liability” lawsuit against the manufacturer of the product – in addition to collecting workers comp ben efits from your employer.
Common examples include injury by a machine or piece of equipment that is defective or inherently dangerous. The manufacturer of the machinery or equipment may be sued for an employee’s injury –under certain circumstances – even if the employee is collecting workers’ comp.
If the machinery manufacturer knew or should have known of the danger to workers, and/or did not provide proper warnings of the danger, they may have to compensate the worker for medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering under some circumstances.
(2.) Injury at Work by a Toxic Substance
Chemicals, cleaning products, manufacturing compounds and other substances that workers use can be toxic and cause severe injury or illness. Such toxic materials include: – such as toluene, asbestos, benzene, chromium, and radium, etc.
Workers who have been injured or made ill by these toxic substances are often successful in bringing lawsuits – “called “toxic torts” – even when they are also collecting Workers’ Compensation.
A worker who is made ill or injured by such a toxic substance can generally sue the manufacturer of the toxic substance. They may also be able to sue the manufacturers of any safety equipment that did not protect them from the toxic substance(s). Even if you are collecting Workers Compensation benefits you still MAY be able to bring this type of lawsuit against a manufacturer.
For example, workers who were afflicted with asbestosis or mesothelioma – from exposure in the workplace to asbestos – will almost always succeed in bringing a separate lawsuit.
(3.) Injury from Employer’s Intentional or Reckless Conduct
In California, an employee can sue an employer for damages beyond workers compensation – under some circumstances – if the employer injures or harms the employee “on purpose” (intentionally) or as the result of reckless behavior (egregious or grossly negligent acts) that made injury was likely.
In such a case, the injured worker can sue the employer for damages that exceed any benefits that the worker would receive through workers’ compensation.
An example of “intentional” conduct might be an injury incurred when an employer angrily pushed an employee causing a head injury. An example of a “grossly negligent” or “egregious” behavior would include situations where an employer ignored safety regulations, resulting in the workers’ injuries.
(4.) If An Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Comp Insurance
In California, there is a special fund in place that provides workers comp benefits to injured workers of companies who do not have Workers’ Compensation insurance. This fund is the “Uninsured Employer’s Benefits Trust Fund”.
However, in addition to the Uninsured Employer’s Benefits Trust Fund, if your employer is uninsured, you may also have the right to sue the employer in civil court for damages related to your injuries. This includes suing them for: medical expenses, lost wages and sometimes even pain & suffering.
Our Los Angeles Workers’ Comp Attorneys Get Maximum Benefits
If you have been disabled and you live in Orange County, the greater Los Angeles area or anywhere in Southern California, we offer a free consultation with an experienced California Workers Compensation attorney. We will help you understand your rights, and fight to obtain the maximum workers’ compensation or disability benefits for which you qualify. We are here to offer you a free consultation and assist you in getting the most benefits to which you are entitled, as rapidly as possible.