In New Jersey, as a general rule, employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, and employees are required to file a claim for workers’ compensation if they get injured on the job. These rules protect employees by providing “no-fault” grounds for seeking benefits and protect employers by limiting the benefits that are available to injured workers.
However, there are instances when you may have the right to sue your employer outside of workers’ compensation.
When Employees Have the Right to Sue Outside of Workers’ Compensation
In certain situations, employees in New Jersey have the right to sue their employer outside of workers’ compensation.
● Intentional Acts Resulting In Harm – If your employer intentionally does something to put you in harm’s way, you can file a claim for damages outside of workers’ compensation. For example, if your employer knowingly fails to correct violations of federal safety regulations, or if your employer removes safety equipment from a dangerous piece of machinery, this may give you grounds to sue in court. The idea behind this exception is that it prevents employers from making budget-based decisions that put their employees at risk, and then relying on workers’ compensation to limit their liability.
● Sexual Harassment – If your injury results from sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be able to sue your employer without filing for workers’ comp benefits.
● Failure to Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance – If your employer violates the law and does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you have the right to take your employer to court.
● Retaliation for Filing for Workers’ Compensation – Though not directly related to your injuries, this is an important right to be aware of as well. Your employer is prohibited from firing you, demoting you, or otherwise taking employment-related action against you because you filed for workers’ compensation. If you experience adverse action or mistreatment at work after filing for benefits, you may be able to sue your employer.
When Employees Can Sue Third Parties for Work-Related Injuries
In addition to filing for workers’ compensation or suing your employer, in many cases injured workers will have claims against other individuals and companies as well. Here are a few examples.
● If you were injured in a vehicle collision while on the clock, you may be able to sue the negligent driver.
● If you were injured by a defective product such as a tool or piece of machinery, you may have a strict liability claim against the product manufacturer.
In these cases, you may ultimately have to pay back your employer or its insurance company if you win a settlement or verdict. However, you can use workers’ compensation to cover the costs of your injuries while your lawsuit against the third party is pending.
Petro Cohen, P.C. | New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you have been injured on the job, or if you have lost a loved one due to a work-related injury, the experienced attorneys at Petro Cohen, P.C. can help you fight for just compensation. For more information, call (888) 675-7607 or email us today.