When you are injured on the job, workers’ compensation may be your only option when it comes to collecting damages. This is because workers’ compensation is considered an “exclusive remedy,” when it comes to work injuries. However, there are certain situations when you can sue outside of workers’ compensation—and the lawsuit may not even involve your employer.
Your Massachusetts workers’ comp attorney can help you determine the right party to sue and how you should go about asserting your rights.
Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation
Although you should generally use workers’ compensation when you suffer a work injury, there are exceptions to this general rule. The exceptions usually involve other parties that are not your employer, but this is not always the case.
Consider the following examples. In each of these examples, you may be abler to assert a claim outside of workers’ compensation.
- A defective product injured you
- A toxic substance injured you
- Your employer intentionally hurt you or engaged in egregious conduct
- Your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance
- Someone else actually caused your injury (usually someone that is not employed by your employer as well, but it could include co-workers in some situations)
Sometimes workers’ compensation will not provide you with as many benefits as a regular personal injury case would. That is partly because workers cannot assert pain and suffering damages in a workers’ compensation case. Punitive damages, which is a type of damage that punishes the wrongdoer, are also not available in workers’ compensation.
Lawsuits that Involve Defective Products or Toxic Substances
If you were injured by a defective product or toxic substance, you might be able to sue several individuals or entities that created the product or substance. This often includes the manufacturer, designer, and/or the individual or entity that sold the product to you or your employer. These suits are common in situations where equipment or machinery was not working properly.
In situations like these, the worker may be able to assert a workers’ compensation claim and a defective product claim. However, if you recover in the personal injury case, your employer will likely be able to recoup some or all of what they paid in workers’ compensation from your personal injury award. This process can be complicated, so it is important to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney for more information.
Toxic substance cases are sometimes not as apparent as a defective product case because the effects of toxic substances may not appear until months or years after exposure. Cases that involve asbestos provide a good example. No one knew asbestos was dangerous until years after workers handled it regularly.
Your Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney will be able to help you decide the best way to assert your rights after a work injury. You may have a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury case, or both. It will depend on the unique facts of your case. Call 888-238-9075 for more information or to schedule a free case evaluation.