Can I Still Sue for My Injuries if I’m Collecting Workers’ Comp?
You have probably been told that if you have been injured at work, the only compensation you can receive is workers’ compensation and you cannot also sue your employer! In fact, your employer will probably be the first to tell an injured employee that worker’s comp is their “exclusive remedy” and that they cannot also bring a separate lawsuit.
However, while in most situations the Workers’ Comp is your “exclusive remedy” there are notable a few important exceptions when you MAY be able to sue your employer or a third party for damages caused by injuries or illnesses that were sustained at the workplace.
These exceptions are important to understand, because IF you can also bring a lawsuit, you will likely receive more compensation than is allowed under workers’ comp. For example, workers’ compensation does NOT provide compensation for pain and suffering, while a lawsuit may! Additionally, workers comp does not allow “punitive damages” to punish an employer for an unsafe or dangerous work environment – but punitive (punishment) amounts can be added in many lawsuits.
When You Can Bring a Lawsuit in Addition to Workers Comp
(1.) Injury at Work by a Defective Product Anaheim Workmans Comp Lawyers
If you were injured at work by a defective product, you might be able to bring a “products liability” law suit against the manufacturer of the defective product.
If a product manufacturer knew of the danger to employees, and/or did not provide the proper warnings, the manufacturer may be liable for your medical bills, all of your lost wages, (not just a portion like workers comp) and possibly even pain and suffering under some circumstances.
(2.) Injury at Work by a Toxic Substance Anaheim Workmans Comp Lawyers
When an employee is made sick or injured by a toxic substance, they can generally sue the manufacturer of the toxic substance. They may also be able to sue the manufacturer of any safety equipment that was ineffective in protecting them from the toxic substance.
Chemicals and other substances that workers use – such as asbestos, toluene, benzene, chromium, radium & many others – can be toxic and cause severe injury or illness to exposed workers. Employees are often successful in bringing lawsuits called “toxic torts” for these of injuries, even if they are also collecting Workers’ Comp.
(3.) Employer’s Conduct Was Intentional or Reckless Anaheim Workmans Comp Lawyers
In most states – including California – an employee can sue an employer if he/she injures the employee either intentionally or by engaging in conduct that that is so reckless (outrageous or grossly negligent) that the employer knew injury was likely.
In these cases the disabled employee can directly sue the employer for any damages (medical costs, lost wages, etc.) that exceed the benefits that the worker can receive through workers’ compensation.
Examples of “intentional” or “reckless” conduct by an employer might be pushing an employee in anger causing them to fall and suffer a head injury. Another example might be when an employee was required to work in an unsafe underground tunnel that collapsed on him – because the employer ignored safety regulations and did not reinforce the tunnel walls .
(4.) Your Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance
In California, a special fund exists that offers benefits to injured employees of companies who do not have Workers’ Compensation insurance. This fund is called the UEBTF or Uninsured Employer’s Benefits Trust Fund.
However, if you are disabled at work, and your employer is uninsured, you may also have the right to sue the employer in civil court for damages related to your injuries. Such a lawsuit can include suing them for your medical bills, lost wages and even pain & suffering.
Our Anaheim Workers’ Comp Lawyers Get Max Benefits
If you have been disabled and you live in Anaheim, the greater Los Angeles area or anywhere in Southern California, we offer a free consultation with an experienced Workers Compensation lawyer to help you understand your rights and collect the maximum workers’ compensation or disability benefits. If you have been injured, made ill or disabled at work, call us today!