Can you sue your employer instead of filing for workers' comp?

Ohio workers' compensation law limits the amount and type of damages you may receive if you sustain an on-the-job injury. In a typical workers' comp case, you might receive compensation to cover your medical expenses, rehabilitation costs and a portion of your lost wages but not for much else. Because workers' comp law limits the benefits you may recover for a single injury, you may wonder if you can file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer instead. Unfortunately, the answer is, not likely.

According to FindLaw, workers' compensation is a no-fault system designed to benefit both the employer and employee. Injured workers benefit because they do not have to prove fault for an incident while employers benefit because they do not have to defend themselves in personal injury cases. However, there are a few exceptions to this no-fault system.  

For instance, if you truly believe that your employer intentionally caused you harm, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for intentional tort. If successful, you would be able to recover compensation not only for your physical injuries but for your emotional damages as well. Some examples of intentional torts are as follows:

  •       Fraud, defamation or conversion
  •       Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  •       Assault and/or battery
  •       Trespass
  •       False imprisonment
  •       Invasion of privacy

You may also be able to pursue a civil claim if you believe a third party — meaning, a party other than your employer — was responsible for your harms. For instance, if your injury was the result of an equipment malfunction even though your employer was religious about equipment maintenance and upkeep, you may be able to sue the equipment manufacturer. However, if the workers' compensation company already paid you benefits, and if you recover from your lawsuit, you may have to repay a portion of the recovery to the workers' comp insurer. Additionally, if you file a lawsuit against a third party, your employer has a right to join the suit as well.

This content is for informational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.

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