Can I File for Worker’s Compensation and Sue My Employer?

Worker’s compensation insurance in California and elsewhere are designed to balance protections between employers and employees. Because worker’s compensation takes negligence out of the claims process, it is expedited for employees – who are not required to prove their employer’s negligence was responsible for their losses – and employers are protected from the considerable cost and time investment associated with lawsuits. There are, however, some instances when an employee can sue their employer and file for worker’s compensation. If you have questions or concerns related to worker’s compensation and your rights as an employee, it’s time to consult with an experienced Garden Grove worker’s compensation attorney.

Exceptions to the Rule

While employees are typically barred from suing their employers for being injured on the job or for acquiring a work-related illness, there are important exceptions, including:

  • If your employer did not carry worker’s compensation insurance as required by state law
  • If you suffered an injury due to a defective product that was produced by your employer but that you received from someone other than your employer
  • If your employer willfully assaulted you or sanctioned your assault by another employee
  • If your injury worsened or was aggravated as a result of your employer’s attempts to hide it and its relation to your work
  • If you suffered an injury on the job by a power press that lacked the required machine guard, which your employer knowingly removed or failed to install or specifically and knowingly authorized to be removed or not installed

Additionally, if you suffered an injury on the job and your employer engages in another form of illegal practice, such as wage theft or workplace discrimination, you can file a worker’s comp claim for your work-related losses (in terms of your injury or illness) and may, ultimately, file a lawsuit against your employer for the illegal employer practice.

If Your Employer Doesn’t Carry Worker’s Compensation

If you suffered an injury on the job or acquired a work-related illness that was caused by your employer’s negligence and your employer doesn’t carry the worker’s compensation that is required by law, it puts you in a very difficult position. You can, however, move forward with a lawsuit against your employer that is based on negligence – just like you will in any other personal injury claim – and you can also pursue worker’s compensation benefits directly through your employer. Additionally, you can seek any worker’s compensation benefits that you are unable to obtain from your employer through the Uninsured Employers’ Benefit Trust Fund (UEBTF).

Although worker’s compensation is designed to generally prevent lawsuits against employers, the law takes a different stance when employers fail to purchase the coverage required of them.

The Compensation You Can Seek

In your worker’s compensation claim, you can seek compensation in the form of lost wages at a specific percentage of your current income and the cost of your necessary and covered medical expenses. Additionally, worker’s compensation addresses the matter of permanent partial disability and permanent total disability benefits, and a supplemental job displacement benefit may be available.

If you have the right to file a negligence-based lawsuit against your employer, however, you can seek more comprehensive compensation that includes:

  • The cost of your medical treatment and care, which can extend to related ongoing healthcare needs, secondary injuries, and complications
  • 100 percent of your lost income, including losses related to lost earning potential and career deficits
  • Your physical and emotional pain and suffering, which can be immense and very difficult to process

Your Worker’s Compensation Claim and Your Personal Injury Case

Worker’s compensation claims are complicated, and obtaining just compensation can be a legal challenge. The same is true of personal injury claims. If you need to pursue both, you can expect the level of difficulty involved to multiply. Because obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled, however, is critical to your recovery and your ability to move beyond this considerable setback in your life, working closely with a dedicated worker’s compensation lawyer is to your advantage.

Seek the Skilled Legal Guidance of an Experienced California Worker’s Comp Attorney

If you suffered an injury as a result of your employer’s negligence and the company doesn’t carry the requisite worker’s compensation insurance, it’s your right to proceed with both a worker’s compensation claim directly through your employer and a negligence-based lawsuit that is predicated on your physical, financial, and emotional losses. Having a practiced California worker’s compensation attorney in your corner is advised.