Workers' Compensation Insurance: Does Fault Matter?

Before workers' compensation insurance came about, workers injured on the job had only one way to seek compensation — personal injury actions. Now, however, workers are expected to use their employer's workers' compensation insurance to cope with medical costs, disability payments, and lump-sum settlements. The issue of fault matters only if the worker chooses one type of benefit over the other. Find out more below. 

Suing Your Employer

While you can, theoretically, file a lawsuit against your employer, it's not a common way to deal with a workplace injury. Filing a lawsuit could bring a hurt worker compensation in certain cases only.

For instance, you should consider filing a suit if you were hurt because:

  • Your employer intentionally harmed you.
  • Your injuries were the result of a defective product, device, or machinery manufactured by a third party. You can, by the way, sue the third party without involving your employer.
  • After speaking with a lawyer, you are advised that a suit is the best course of action.

Why Not Sue Anyway?

Some hurt workers may consider filing a suit against their employers but take the below issues into consideration first.

  1. With a personal injury suit, fault matters a great deal. On the other hand, fault is not a consideration for those seeking workers' compensation benefits. You must be ready to show that you were not at fault in any manner for your injuries for lawsuits, though. For instance, in many states you can still be paid workers' compensation benefits even if your injury resulted from breaking a workplace safety rule. Not so with a lawsuit.
  2. Civil cases can be more expensive to litigate and take more time to settle.
  3. You may not be protected against retaliatory actions by your employer. Workers' compensation claimants have a host of federal and state laws protecting them against being demoted, fired, and other forms of workplace retaliation. The same protections don't exist for those filing suits.
  4. You can be barred from seeking workers' compensation. In some states, you cannot seek help from both a personal injury suit and workers' compensation.
  5. The civil courts encourage workers to use workers' compensation. This way of dealing with accidents keeps things out of the court system. That means workers seeking damages can face an uphill battle in court.

Speak to a workers' compensation lawyer before you make a move to file a suit. They can advise you on how to proceed.