I get asked frequently if you are injured at work due to the negligence of the employer, can you sue your employer (when you also have a workers’ comp claim). Unfortunately, the answer is almost always no because workers’ compensation is considered an “exclusive remedy”, which means that you cannot pursue a claim in district court for the employer’s negligence.
Being an exclusive remedy may be frustrating when you get hurt because your employer did not get that dripping pipe fixed or took the guard off the machine that caused your injury, but it can also help protect you from having your workers’ compensation claim denied as well. If you are at fault because you cut a few corners on a job and got hurt because of it, as long as you were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol or breaking any safety protocols, your employer’s insurance company cannot deny the claim even if it was completely your fault. This means that you will get the medical care you need, regardless of whether the incident where you got injured was “your fault” or not if the claim is admitted or you go to a hearing and are successful. If they take a safety rule violation or one based on alcohol or drug use it reduces the non-medical benefits by 50% but does not completely allow them to deny the claim. All medicals in those cases get paid.
Like I had stated above, this no-fault system makes you unable to “sue” your employer for negligence. It is a difficult trade-off sometimes, but ultimately it means that you will always be able to get medical care, no matter what happened to cause your injury. That does not mean, however, that the insurance company will not try to argue that pieces of your injury are not work related or that you should not be covered for other reasons. If you do get hurt at work, involving an attorney in your case early will make a huge difference in the value of your case.
Most lawyers (myself included) will do a free consultation with you over the phone, by email, or in person to tell you what you can expect in your case. If you would like to talk to someone about your case, you can call me at 303-792-5595 or submit a request using the button on the right side of the page to have someone from our office contact you.