Rather Than Collecting Workers' Compensation, May I Bring A Lawsuit Against My Employer?

Because of legal regulations and public policies, usually when an employee is injured in the course of employment, workers' compensation is his or her only recourse. In special circumstances, it may be possible to file a third-party suit, but only in cases involving outside actors other than your employer or your co-workers.

The reason behind this rule is that as a reciprocal relationship, employees give up their right to sue an employer in exchange for guaranteed workers' compensation benefits — a process that also alleviates potentially contentious situations involving employer retaliation. To learn more about the workers' compensation process, contact our office and discuss your situation and potential options with an experienced Chicago workers' comp attorney.

When Third-Party Claims Are Possible

There are situations where filing a lawsuit in addition to claiming workers' comp benefits may be possible. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but it gives a good idea of the types of cases that typically fall outside the traditional realm of workers' compensation claims. As always, the best judge of your situation is an experienced attorney. Please get in touch if your situation resembles any of the following situations:

  • If your employer intentionally hurt you, you can sue for harm in addition to workers' comp. Deliberate actions fall outside the traditional realm of workers' comp coverage and situations involving assault, known exposure to hazardous conditions or intentional infliction of emotional distress are intentional acts that are the basis for a lawsuit.
  • If you were harmed in a way that is not covered by workers' comp such as by a dangerous co-worker whom your employer should have known not to hire, your property was damaged, you were discriminated against, your privacy was invaded, you were sexually harassed or any other number of harms, these are atypical instances not covered by workers' compensation.
  • The relationship you have to your employer is also an important distinction. The rules for contractors are different from employees, and if you are hired in a dual capacity with your employer and were harmed in a separate legal relationship, you may be able to sue for damages instead of claiming workers' compensation.
  • If you were subjected to employer retaliation after a workers' compensation claim, you can sue for damages related to that situation as a separate matter.
  • Additional parties that may be responsible for your injuries can be sued outside of your workers' compensation claim. Situations involving defective products, poor inspection, medical malpractice during your workers' compensation treatment or negligent property care are all situations where third-party suits may be justified.

Speak To A Lawyer

The best way to know whether you can file a claim in addition to or instead of a workers' compensation claim is to speak with an attorney about your situation. Call our office at 312-445-9034 or toll free 888-837-3275 to set up a free initial consultation.