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When can you sue your employer after a workplace accident?

If you slip while walking through your workplace and break your ankle, you might be tempted to go straight to the CEO's office and threaten him with a lawsuit. Unfortunately, this scenario is not going to end well for you. First, your boss is likely to laugh at this assertion, and second, you may face professional repercussions as a result of your threatening outburst.

The reason that your boss will likely laugh is because for the majority of workers, it's not possible to file a lawsuit against an employer because you have been injured at work or while fulfilling job responsibilities. That's what workers' compensation is for:

  • Workers' compensation is an insurance policy that most employers are required to purchase to protect themselves in the event of an injury or accident on their premises.
  • Workers who are injured at work or while fulfilling their job responsibilities must report the injury to their employer, who subsequently files a workers' compensation claim with their insurance policy. Employees can receive compensation to cover their medical expenses, their lost wages and even the detrimental impact on their quality of life. 
  • For employers, workers' compensation protects them from lawsuits. Employees who are covered under workers' compensation policies are typically not able to file a lawsuit against their employers, because they will receive compensation through the program.

Generally, the answer to "Can I file a lawsuit against my company after a workplace injury?" is a hard-lined "No." However, there are a few notable exceptions that employees should be aware of in the event of an injury or a lawsuit.

There are several situations in which a lawsuit may be the best course of action for the injured employer:

An Injury that the Employee Believes was Caused Intentionally

Accidental injuries are covered under workers' compensation programs, but an employee who believes that their injury was purposefully caused by the employer may have the right to file a lawsuit. It should be noted that both physical and emotional injuries can be included as part of these types of lawsuits. In the event of a presumed purposeful injury, an employee can file an intentional tort lawsuit. Defamation, fraud and infliction of emotional distress are a few examples of non-physical injuries that may be covered under an intentional tort lawsuit. Physical injuries may include, but are not limited to, assault, battery or trespassing. In an intentional tort lawsuit, it is important to work with an attorney who can collect the necessary evidence to prove that the injury you sustained was inflicted upon you intentionally. 

An Injury Sustained by the Employee that was Caused by a Third Party

In the event that you are injured and the injury was caused by a third party rather than yourself or your employer, you have the option to sue the third party. While this is not a direct lawsuit against your employer, it may involve your employer to some degree. For example, if you file a lawsuit against the third party that was involved and you are awarded damages, your employer may seek repayment for the workers' compensation that you were provided during your time away from work. In some cases, your employer may actually partner with you on the lawsuit in order to seek damages themselves for the workers' compensation benefits that they had to provide to you as a result of the injury that was caused by the third party.

An Injury in Which the Employee was Denied a Workers' Compensation Claim

If you have been injured at work and you are not getting the workers' compensation that you deserve, it might be time to contact an attorney who can advocate for you. By partnering with an experienced attorney who specializes in workers' compensation in Denver, you will be able to get the guidance and counsel that you need in order to receive the compensation that you deserve. For more information, contact us today.

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