Laws implemented by state workers’ compensation systems usually provide both protections to injured workers and limit the legal recourse that these workers have.
This means that the state statutes provide an “exclusive remedy” for workers who are injured on the job – workers’ comp benefits, which include medical treatment. It should be fairly easy for workers to get medical treatment and workers’ comp benefits following a workplace injury, but injured workers are barred from taking legal actions against an employer or even against another employee whose actions may have contributed to the injury. This may sound unfair, but the system is meant to benefit both workers and employers, as employers are protected from being sued every time an employee is injured, but the employee may receive workers’ comp benefits even if they were the cause of their own injury.
Exceptions to the exclusive remedy of workers’ comp
There are occasional exceptions to this rule of exclusive remedy. In extreme situations where the employer meant to cause intentional harm to an employee (intentional torts), there might be options for legal recourse. But usually, even if the employer’s actions contributed significantly to the accident/injury, workers’ comp is the only remedy.
The exceptions usually involve a third party, one who is not actually responsible for the worker’s employment, or by an employee of another company. For instance, if you are injured while working on the premises of another business, or if you are injured by a third party individual, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Another exception includes product liability cases, where the use of a product or piece of equipment which is defective or dangerous ends up causing an injury to the employee. The injured worker may be able to bring a product liability lawsuit against the third party manufacturer.
If an employer violates state law and fails to maintain workers’ comp insurance, then they will not be protected by workers’ compensation laws and you may be able to take civil action.
The construction industry is one where some of these circumstances are most likely to occur. There are usually several different contractors and subcontractors working on the same construction site, which leaves workers open to third party injuries.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers’ compensation laws can be complicated, and if you have questions about whether or not you can file a civil action against an employer you should consult with a workers’ compensation attorney. Each state maintains its own workers’ compensation system, so if you have been injured in a work accident in the state of Missouri, you will need to learn more about the rights that the state affords you. An experienced Missouri workers’ compensation attorney can help you to determine what your options are and what the best course of action will be for getting the compensation, medical treatment, and workers’ comp benefits that you are entitled to if you have been injured on the job.
The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann can help. Call us today at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our Online Case Evaluation Form.
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