After an injury on the job, the most obvious thing to do is file a workers' compensation claim and use all the tools at your disposal to make sure that you get the most out of the claim. However, many employees wonder if it is possible to sue their employer instead of accepting the workers' compensation benefits.
In very general terms, it is usually not possible to sue an employer after an injury on the job, but there are some exceptions.
The key issue here is understanding whether your employer caused the injury through some act intended to harm you. Workers' compensation exists to create a hedge of protection around employers so that when employees do inevitably suffer injuries, the employer can avoid lawsuits.
In most cases, the strongest strategy is usually to work with an attorney to maximize your workers' compensation benefits. However, if you believe that you suffered injury because of your employer's intentional wrongdoing, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.
Did your employer physically harm you?
Let's say that you and your employer are on a worksite and you get into an argument. In the course of the argument, your employer makes a few verbal threats against you before ultimately beating you physically.
While this scenario is unlikely, it is certainly possible. In these sorts of cases, your employer personally committed a crime against you in the course of your employment, which may give you grounds to bring a lawsuit.
In contrast, such a suit would probably not have legs if you and your boss were out for social drinks at a bar and got into a fight about some personal matter. In this instance, the grounds for suing the company are very thin.
Did your employer harm you in some other way?
Even if your employer does not physically harm you, their actions may still affect you negatively. If, for instance, an employer holds you against your will for hours at a time in a workplace, or if they publish or originate false information about you that harms your reputation, you may have grounds for a suit.
You may also have grounds for a discrimination suit if you face discrimination in your workplace, although that is substantially different from a personal injury lawsuit.
If you believe that your employer harmed you intentionally, you should consult with an attorney who understands how to navigate many kinds of workplace injuries so you can examine your options for pursuing justice.