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Can I sue my employer for a workplace injury?

In most cases, when a worker suffers an injury on the job in San Diego, workers' compensation benefits kick in and compensates you for your medical expenses and lost wages. By accepting workers' compensation benefits, you essentially give up your right to take legal action against your employer.

The workers' compensation system works on a no-fault system, which means regardless of who caused the accident, your expenses will be covered if your employer and the insurer approve your claim. Therefore, in general, you cannot pursue a claim in court against your employer for your injuries. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. To find out more about circumstances where you can file a lawsuit against your employer for an injury, read below.

Intentional torts

If your boss had an actual intent to cause you harm, then you might be able to file a lawsuit in civil court on the basis that your employer committed an intentional tort. Typically, "harm" applies to both physical injuries and mental or emotional distress. For example, if your employer hit you, then you can file a suit claiming battery. Or, if your boss has been emotionally traumatizing you, you can take legal action against his or her intentional infliction of emotional distress. Other acts that you can sue your employer for include assault, false imprisonment, fraud, defamation, and invasion of privacy.

Third party injuries

If a third party injured you at the workplace, you may be able to sue that individual or company. For instance, if you work in the construction industry and a subcontractor was directly responsible for your injuries, you might be able to sue the subcontractor. Another scenario that might occur involves equipment you are working with. If a piece of machinery you are working with malfunctions, you may be able to take the manufacturer to court. However, if you win a suit, you may have to reimburse your employer for any workers' compensation benefits you received as a result of the injury.

Wrongful denial of benefits

When you file a workers' compensation claim, it is possible that your employer or the insurer will deny the claim. If that happens, you will have to follow a specific appeals process. If you go through the entire process and use every avenue available within the workers' compensation system and you still do not receive benefits, then you might be able to take your case to court.

If you suffer a workplace injury, it is vital that you understand your rights and options. Examine the specific circumstances that surround your injury and determine if workers' compensation applies, or if the incident warrants legal action against your employer.

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