First, you should be aware that workers are generally barred from suing their employers for workplace injuries. Federal and state laws created a no-fault workers compensation system to protect employers from getting sued by employees for work-related injuries. In exchange, employers have to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. But, there may be a few exceptions in which you can sue outside the workplace compensation system.
Depending on your state, you may sue your employer for personal injury if:
- Your employer hurts you on purpose. In such cases, you can file for an intentional tort against your employer in civil court. Examples include battery, assault, fraud, defamation, among others.
- Your employer’s reckless conduct resulted in your injury. This includes keeping dangerous working conditions, putting workers at unnecessary risks, not issuing employees with protective equipment, and the likes.
- Your employer has insufficient to non-existent workers compensation insurance. You may sue your employer for your injuries in civil court. In California, as in some states, you may have access to Uninsured Employer’s Benefits Trust Fund which provides benefits to injured workers of uninsured companies.
To start your lawsuit, you need to file specific documents in the state where you live, where your employer is, or where the injury happened. If these three are different states, consult with an attorney to ensure you file your lawsuit in the right jurisdiction. If you have a valid personal injury claim, you need to prove two things:
- Your employer intentionally hurts you or have no insurance.
- Your injury was caused by your employer’s actions or omissions.
Also, you need to show the extent of your injury. If you have been injured on the job, consult with a local attorney to assess whether you have a valid case, and if you do, what your next steps are.