When Can You Sue Outside of Workers’ Compensation?

If you’ve been injured at work, you’re probably being told that the only compensation you can receive is through your employer’s workers’ compensation policy. While this is generally true, there are certain exceptions to this rule that allow for an employee to file a work related injury lawsuit against an employer or others. These exceptions include:

  • Intentional, grossly reckless, actions by the employer. If this is the case, the employee may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the employer.
  • Cases where the employer is not required to (and does not) carry a workers’ compensation policy. In New Jersey, this exception almost never applies because New Jersey law requires every employer to have workers’ compensation insurance or be self-insured. The only exceptions are employers who are already covered by certain federal coverage programs, and government agencies.
  • The injury is the result of a third party’s action. An employee can bring a lawsuit against the third party under many theories of law. For example, if a manufacturer provides defective machinery to a business and an employee of the business in injured due to the defective machinery, the employee may receive workers’ compensation from the employer and may also file a product liability lawsuit against the third party manufacturer. An employee may also be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against a third party if that third party’s negligence or intentional conduct caused the employee’s injury.

Although workers’ compensation provides benefits to injured workers, the benefits can be quite low, and they don’t compensate the worker for certain types of damages like pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation also doesn’t allow for punitive damages to punish an employer for dangerous conditions or poor safety implementations. For these reasons, it’s important for injured workers to understand their rights to bring a lawsuit outside of the workers’ compensation system.

If you have been injured while at work, you are likely entitled to compensation, either through workers’ compensation, a lawsuit, or both. To help you maximize your monetary award and more fully remedy the injury that you have suffered, it is important that you contact an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney.