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Can I sue my employer instead of filing a workers' comp claim?

Only in rare circumstances. In most cases, a Louisiana employee cannot bring a lawsuit against a co-worker, supervisor, the owner or the company itself. This is the trade-off of workers' compensation.EyeInjury(2).jpg

But hold on. While your employer could have immunity, you might have a lawsuit against a third party who is not in your chain of employment. An attorney who handles both workers' compensation and personal injury claims can explore your full remedies.

Why can't I sue an employer or co-worker if their negligence caused my injury?

Workers' compensation replaced the old the tort system in which injured workers sued employers directly. Mostly, this "exclusive remedy" is a good thing. In the past, some seriously injured workers spent years in litigation or never recovered a dime. There are many downsides to workers' comp. The benefits tend to be low, your medical treatment is subject to approval and your claim can be abruptly terminated.

Workers' comp is not necessarily your exclusive remedy.

  • Employers can be sued when they harmed workers through intentional acts or willful disregard for safety. Few workplace accidents meet this high threshold, even if a workplace hazard is identified. A workers' comp attorney can examine the circumstances of your case to determine if your employer might be liable. In a lawsuit, you can recover damages not available under workers' compensation, such as pain and suffering, and possibly punitive damages.
  • Third parties can be sued if they caused or contributed to your injuries. For example, you may have a lawsuit against a manufacturer of a defective machine that injured you or faulty safety equipment that failed to protect you. A property owner or subcontractor may have created a dangerous condition at a job site. Perhaps a motorist caused your on-duty auto collision.

Schwartz Law Firm LLC, with offices in Metairie and Baton Rouge, has helped many clients win damages in addition to their workers' compensation claims. Even if you are "stuck" with workers' comp, it is wise to seek legal counsel early in the process. Our experienced lawyers can protect your rights and make sure that you are compensated in a full and timely manner for a serious work accident.

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