Can I Sue My Employer for Personal Injury?

A personal injury lawyer working on a case for a client on his laptop.

Any accident that results in injury is going to be stressful, but when that injury occurs on the job, the situation is only going to become more complicated. Everything from a sudden car accident to long-term exposure to toxic substances can leave you with hefty expenses.

When this happens, it’s on your employer to step up and make sure you’re taken care of – but if they don’t, you’re often in the right to pursue legal action. 

Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law, have helped countless families recover from injuries incurred on the job. Our California personal injury lawyers have extensive years of combined experience and can help you tackle this difficult time with confidence.

We will provide a confidential and no-obligation case review to discuss all your options. All you have to do is call (559) 878-4958 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.

What to Expect When You Sue Your Employer

If you have suffered a personal injury while at work, you may be wondering if you can sue your employer in California.

The answer is, on specific occasions, yes — you can file a personal injury claim against your employer for damages resulting from the accident or injury, provided that they stepped beyond the common bounds of normal employer conduct.

They must have intentionally harmed you in an assault or otherwise committed an egregious act of gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or some other exceptional wrongful act.

So what should you actually expect when you sue your employer?

First, it’s important to know that California has mandatory workers’ compensation laws. These laws provide employers immunity from employee lawsuits regarding on-the-job injuries.

Exceptions are made when circumstances go well above and beyond the typical work injury situation. The benefit is that with workers’ comp claims, the employee only has to prove that they were injured while acting in the course of their duties, not that someone else was at fault.

Second, it’s important to understand that suing an employer does carry certain risks.

If your case is unsuccessful, you may be responsible for court costs and attorney fees. Additionally, filing a workplace lawsuit will obviously put a significant strain on your relationship with your employer, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before taking action.

Lastly, it’s wise to consult a qualified personal injury attorney who has experience handling cases like yours. They’ll know how to navigate the legal system and can ensure your case is ultimately handled fairly.

What Are Common Grounds for suing your employer in California?

When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, it’s important to consider the extent of your employer’s liability. Depending on the situation, you may have the grounds to successfully sue your employer for a personal injury in California.

Often, some of the most common legal grounds include:

Gross Negligence

Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees. If they utterly and completely fail to maintain a safe workplace and an employee is injured as a result, the employee may be able to sue the employer for negligence.

Intentional Misconduct 

In some cases, an employer’s intentional actions may result in an employee’s injury.

For example, if an employer physically assaults an employee or orders them to perform a dangerous task without proper safety precautions, the employee may be able to sue the employer for intentional misconduct.

Product Liability

Employers may also be liable for injuries caused by defective products or equipment that they manufacture, provided the product caused injury to the employee in question.

For example, if an employee is injured while using a defective machine manufactured by the employing entity, the employee may be able to sue the employer for product liability.

Power Press Guard Exception

California law provides a specific exemption from employers’ immunity to occupational injury liability claims: when the employer removes a guard from a power press or fails to install the guard properly, and an employee is injured, the employer is exposed to a possible injury lawsuit.

Workers’ Compensation 

Workers’ compensation benefits are available to employees who are injured on the job, regardless of who is at fault.

However, in some cases, an employee may be able to sue the employer — or another third party — for damages beyond those available through workers’ compensation.

If an employee is injured due to an employer’s intentional or reckless conduct, the employee may be able to sue for damages beyond what is available through workers’ compensation.

What’s a Third-Party Personal Injury Claim?

You may have heard of a “third-party personal injury claim” but what exactly is it? It’s a legal action where you, the employee, sue a third party — i.e., someone who isn’t your employer — for an injury you suffered on the job.

Reasons to File a Third-Party Claim

You might file a third-party claim if you can prove that an external party was responsible for your injury and should be held accountable. Reasons why you might do this can include:

  1. The third-party failed to provide adequate safety equipment or training that could have prevented your injury
  2. The third party’s negligence ultimately caused the accident
  3. Your employer was inadequately insured to cover the costs you incurred from your accident
  4. The injury was caused by the third party’s defective machinery or equipment 

Third-party personal injury claims must be properly documented and presented in court, but they offer many injured employees a chance to recover damages that would be impossible through workers’ compensation alone.

Should I File a Worker’s Compensation Claim?

If you’re injured at work, one of your options is to file a worker’s compensation claim. But how do you know if this is the right course of action?

Generally, if your injury happened while you were working on behalf of your employer, it’s best to file a workers’ compensation claim. This holds true even if the accident or injury was caused by your own mistake or negligence.

It’s important to note that filing a workers’ compensation claim doesn’t necessarily prevent you from filing an additional lawsuit against your employer — or another third party — for personal injury, but it does mean that your award or settlement will be reduced by the amount of workers’ compensation benefits you have already received.

If you successfully file a workers’ comp claim, not only will your medical expenses and lost wages be covered, but there could also be additional benefits included in workers’ compensation benefits such as:

  1. Disability payments for injuries resulting in a permanent disability
  2. Rehabilitation benefits for injuries resulting in a temporary disability 
  3. Death benefits if family members lose their loved one due to a work-related death.

Remember — you should always talk to an experienced attorney before filing a worker’s comp claim or any other legal action. If they believe your case could benefit from additional legal action, they will be able to provide further guidance and advice on how best to proceed.

What if I Can’t Access Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

If your employer wrongfully terminates your workers’ compensation benefits or denies them outright, you can sue your employer for personal injury.

It’s important to know that state laws vary when it comes to filing such a lawsuit. Nonetheless, if you can demonstrate that your employer acted in bad faith, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages and medical expenses.

Furthermore, if your employer does not have adequate workers’ compensation coverage or does not abide by its coverage terms, you may be able to sue them for negligence as well as file a personal injury claim — which could lead to even more damages than what would be available under mere workers’ compensation benefits alone.

Remember that filing a personal injury lawsuit is complex, so it’s important to speak with an experienced lawyer before taking any legal action. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on whether or not filing a lawsuit against your employer is the right course of action.

How Do I Sue My Employer for a Personal Injury?

In California, you have the right to sue your employer if you’ve been injured on the job. Below, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide to suing your employer after an injury. 

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health and safety should be your top priority. Make sure to seek medical attention immediately after your injury, even if it seems minor, because it will be important to have all medical appointments, costs, and consultations documented if you decide to pursue legal action.
  2. Report the Injury to Your Employer: Notify your employer of your injury as soon as possible. California law requires that employers be notified of work-related injuries within 30 days.
  3. File a Workers’ Compensation Claim: You may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, which can help cover medical expenses and lost wages. If you decide to go this route, you’ll want to file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier as soon as possible, but keep in mind that a personal injury attorney may be able to help you secure the highest amount in damages owed.
  4. Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney: If you believe that your employer’s negligence or intentional actions caused your injury, you may have a valid claim for personal injury. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you on your legal rights and options. Call the number (559) 878-4958 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today with Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law. 
  5. Collect Evidence: Your attorney will need evidence to support your claim. This may include medical records, accident reports, witness statements, and other documentation.
  6. File a Lawsuit: If settlement negotiations with your employer’s insurance carrier are unsuccessful, your attorney may file a lawsuit on your behalf. Your attorney will need to file the lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, which is generally two years from the date of the injury.
  7. Go to Trial: If your case goes to trial, you will need to present evidence to support your claim. Your attorney will handle most of the legal proceedings, but you may need to testify in court.

Suing your employer for a personal injury can be a complex process, and it’s never one that you’re going to want to face alone. Contact our team today to schedule your first consultation, and we’ll be able to review all the facts of your case to determine your best course of action.