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Is a Lawsuit an Option When Workers’ Compensation Applies?


If you are injured as a result of something out of your control, there is almost always a way to get compensation for the damages. If the injury happens while working, then workers’ compensation is the system set up to ensure workers become whole again. However, the most traditional way to receive compensation is through a lawsuit. This raises the question of whether you can sue your employer or co-worker after an accident injures you. As with any aspect of workers’ comp, it is important to understand the laws for your specific state, and speaking with a workers’ comp lawyer is always a good idea.

Workers’ Comp Vs. Lawsuits

The general rule is that you cannot sue an employer when you receive workers’ comp. At least in theory, workers’ comp should cover all of your expenses from the injury in their entirety. As far as the law is concerned, this means suing your employer is unnecessary. However, this also means that if you do not qualify for workers’ comp for any reason, a lawsuit instantly becomes a viable option for you. For example, unpaid volunteers do not qualify for workers’ comp. Many employers see this as a disadvantage because they are not protected from lawsuits.

The Exceptions to the Rule

As with most things in the law, there are exceptions. In some case, you can sue your employer or someone else in the place of workers’ comp or in addition to it.

  • Injured by a third party – If the injury happens as a result of the actions of someone other than your employer, you may be able to sue that party. In many cases, a third party being at-fault actually disqualifies the injured individual from workers’ comp because it is assumed the responsible party will be held accountable.
  • Intentional injury – If your employer intentionally injures you, workers comp is not the appropriate source of compensation. They have just committed a crime, so a criminal investigation is more appropriate.
  • Lack of workers’ compensation insurance – If your employer does not have workers’ comp insurance or is unable to cover your workers’ comp, then a lawsuit may be your best option to receive what you are owed.
  • Faulty products – Just like if your injuries are caused by a third party, the manufacturer or designer of a faulty product that causes an injury is responsible for compensating you, rather than your employer. Your employer may also be accountable if he or she knowingly provided faulty products.

It is always a good idea to speak with workers’ compensation attorneys in the Bronx if you have questions about how the process works.


Thanks to Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. for their insight into workers compensation and lawsuits.