Typically, when someone suffers an injury in the workplace, they cannot sue their employer — even if the employer could and should have prevented it. One of the primary reasons that businesses have workers’ compensation insurance is so that employees can receive compensation for injuries and illnesses without taking their employers to court.
There are, however, instances in which an employee can sue if they’ve suffered harm in the workplace. They can sue for what are considered “intentional torts.” These are injuries (physical and/or emotional) that were intentional on someone’s part. They can include criminal behavior, like assault and battery, theft and false imprisonment.
They can also involve things like fraud, libel, slander and invasion of privacy. For example, if an employer posts photos of an employee in a compromising position or says false, derogatory things about them online, they might well have grounds for a lawsuit. Employees can also sue for emotional distress if they believe it was intentional (as in these cases) or if behavior towards an employee in the workplace was truly egregious.
Employees may be able to sue one or more third parties whom they hold responsible for an injury. For example, if you were injured while using a tool or piece of machinery that was defective, you might be able to hold the manufacturer liable. If you were injured in an elevator accident at work because the elevator wasn’t properly maintained, that might be another example.
If you are denied the workers’ compensation benefits you’re seeking, there’s a process you need to follow. If you’ve exhausted that process and still haven’t received benefits, you also may be able to take legal action against the insurance company and your employer. If you’re having difficulty getting workers’ comp, it may be wise to consult an attorney, at least for guidance, sooner rather than later.