If you recently got hurt at work and have suffered a disabling injury, you are likely wondering about your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. At the same time, if your injury resulted from someone else’s negligence—like your employer, a co-worker, or even another party who is not connected to your place of business—you also might be wondering if you are eligible to file a lawsuit against your employer to seek additional compensation for your losses. While workers’ compensation law in Ohio generally allows an injured worker to obtain benefits for lost wages and medical expenses, workers’ comp law does not permit an employee to obtain benefits for non-economic losses like pain and suffering. Moreover, workers’ comp does not allow an injured worker to seek punitive damages from an employer who was particularly negligent in violating a safety regulation.
In any scenario in which an employer’s or co-worker’s negligence caused your injuries, you might want to jump to filing a lawsuit against your employer. In most cases, filing a lawsuit for a workplace injury is difficult or even impossible. In some circumstances, however, it may be possible to file a civil lawsuit. I will tell you more about how this works.
Workers’ Compensation Generally Covers an Employer’s Negligence and is the Exclusive Remedy for Injury
In general, workers’ compensation law provides benefits to an injured employee without taking into account the fault or negligence of the employer or the employee. In other words, workers’ compensation benefits are available regardless of whether the employee was negligent or whether the employer was negligent. The system operates on the assumption that workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage regardless of fault and that an employer’s mistake will not open that employer up to further liability. In other words, it is a no-fault system, and the workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy for a workplace injury caused by an employer’s negligence.
Accordingly, in accepting workers’ comp benefits, the employee typically gives up his or her right to file a lawsuit. However, there are some scenarios in which an injured worker may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and also may be eligible to file a lawsuit against a negligent party. Let me say more.
Filing a Lawsuit When an Employer is Grossly Negligent
If an employer is grossly negligent or acts intentionally to harm a worker, that is a different story. In this type of scenario, the injured worker may in fact be eligible to file a lawsuit against the employer. If this happened to you, I can discuss your case with you and can help you to determine your options for moving forward.
Suing a Negligent Third-Party
Even if a worker accepts workers’ compensation benefits for a workplace injury, she or he still might be able to file a lawsuit against a negligent or otherwise liable third party. For instance, if a worker got hurt because of a product defect (like a design defect on a machine), that injured worker may be able to file a product liability claim. Similarly, if the worker got hurt because a third party crashed a car into a construction zone while speeding on an Ohio highway, the worker may be able to file a third-party claim against that negligent driver.
Contact Me for Help with Your Workplace Injury Claim
I have been helping Ohio residents as a Cleveland workers’ compensation lawyer for years. I can discuss your workplace accident today and your options for compensation. Contact me at 877.944.4373 to learn more about how I’ll Make Them Pay!®