No, except for under very limited circumstances, you are not permitted to sue your employer for injuries sustained in a workplace accident.
Workers’ Compensation Requirements
Under federal law and California state law, most employers are required to take out workers’ compensation insurance policies to cover their employees who may be injured at work. Workers’ compensation coverage is intended to be the ‘exclusive remedy’ for employees who are injured so that they can recover compensation for things such as medical bills and lost wages under their employer’s insurance policy, but they may not sue their employer for additional compensation.
Workers’ Compensation Advantages
Workers’ compensation is meant to protect employees and employers alike. Employees benefit under workers’ compensation laws because the insurance coverage is no fault. When employees are injured on the job, they are entitled to compensation without having to prove that their employer or anyone else was at fault for the accident and resulting injuries.
This means that injured employees receive medical care and compensation right away instead of having to prove liability in a legal battle that may take years to conclude. Workers’ compensation laws also prohibit employers from punishing or firing employees for suffering workplace injuries and filing workers’ compensation claims.
Employers also benefit from workers’ compensation because, except for under limited circumstances (described in more detail below), employees are not permitted to sue their employers for workplace injuries. Employers are therefore protected from having to defend themselves in an expensive employee lawsuit, and they do not face the risk of having to pay out large trial awards for employee injuries.
Workers’ Compensation Disadvantages
Workers’ compensation law provides financial recovery guidelines for injured employees. Under those guidelines, employees are often only partially compensated for lost wages when they have to miss work because of their injuries. Guidelines also provide for amounts to be paid to employees for specific permanent disability injuries such as loss of vision or amputation of a finger.
Recoverable compensation under the guidelines is typically less than employees would be entitled to recover in a regular personal injury action, especially because injured employees are not afforded compensation for pain and suffering. However, injured employees who are represented by a workers’ compensation attorney are more likely to secure maximum compensation for their claims than employees who handle their claims without an attorney advocating for their recovery.
Exceptions For Lawsuits Against Employers
As mentioned above, some exceptions permit employees to sue their employers. Employees are, of course, entitled to sue their employers for claims unrelated to work injuries such as employment discrimination or wage and hour violations. Injured employees may also sue their employers who have failed to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
Other exceptions include employment-related injuries that are intentional, such as physical assault, and in cases where an employer fraudulently conceals evidence related to the workplace injury.
Personal Injury And Employment Law Claims
Sometimes injured employees have legal claims in addition to their workers’ compensation claims such as personal injury claims against non-employer third parties who are responsible for their workplace injuries and employment law claims against their employers for wrongful termination.
We always work to maximize our clients’ financial recoveries, and when they have additional legal claims, we refer those claims to specialized attorneys to handle while we continue to work on their workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation benefits generally cover employees for workplace injuries and resulting damages according to the guidelines, which may include the following:
- Wages for missed work
- Medical care expenses including rehabilitation
- Permanent disability compensation
- Vouchers for education or training
- Death benefits for fatal workplace injuries
Workers’ Compensation Attorney
While there are state and federal laws and guidelines related to workplace injuries, injured employees do not always receive the compensation to which they are entitled, especially when they do not have a workers’ compensation attorney advocating for them. Insurance companies can be very difficult to work with and often refuse to return claimants’ phone calls or answer their questions.
Employers want to keep a low number of workplace injury claims and low payment amounts for injured employees because the less their insurance companies have to pay for employee injuries, the lower insurance premiums are for employers. Insurance companies also want to pay out as little as possible because money paid for insurance claims impacts their financial profits. As a result, legitimate injury claims are frequently wrongly denied or underpaid.
Workers’ compensation laws are very complex, and only specialized attorneys should handle workplace injury claims. Our law firm works to maximize the value of our clients’ claims, and we recognize when our injured clients are not being treated fairly by their employers and insurance companies. We fight for the compensation that our clients deserve and represent them in all matters related to their claims, including appeals and settlement negotiations.