"When people have been injured, they need someone to get to work for them and that's what we do."
– Attorney Brad Freeman

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Can hurt workers choose to sue employers instead of using workers’ comp?

On Behalf of | May 21, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

Workers in any industry could end up hurt on the job. Someone working as a cook in a fast food restaurant could get burned or cut, and a cashier could end up injured in a robbery or develop a repetitive stress disorder.

Most injured workers will be in a position to file a relatively straightforward claim for workers’ compensation benefits if they develop a significant health issue that directly relates to their employment. However, some workers feel very strongly that their employer is to blame for their injury and should therefore compensate them directly. These workers may hope to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a business instead of a workers’ compensation claim, which is subject to several limitations under Kentucky law.

Is it possible to forgo workers’ compensation benefits and sue an employer?

No, the law protects employers from lawsuits

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault benefits system. Workers can get coverage for injuries even when they caused their own injury through a mistake on the job. Their fault typically won’t prevent them from getting the benefits they need. There is also no burden of proof to establish that the company was at fault, and, even if there is evidence that the business violated statutes or did something negligent that led to a worker’s injury, they would still typically not need to worry about a lawsuit in most cases.

Even if the employer does not cooperate in the workers’ compensation program as they should, there is an alternate option available to injured workers that does not involve suing their employer. It is only in the rarest and most egregious of cases that a lawsuit would be necessary. For most injured workers, workers’ compensation will be the only form of compensation available through their employer.

There are some workers who have grounds for a third-party claim to augment their workers’ compensation benefits. Those who have been hurt in a car crash or an act of violence, as well as those affected by dangerous property conditions or defective products, for example, may have grounds to file a lawsuit against a third party in civil court. Seeking legal guidance to better understand what options an injured employee has after getting hurt on the job may help those who have been recently hurt at work to more easily secure compensation.