When a worker is injured on the job, one of the first steps in seeking compensation for medical bills and lost wages is usually tofile a workers’ compensation claim. Yet workers’ compensation cannot always compensate a worker for all of his or her losses, including non-economic damages like pain and suffering associated with the workplace injury. When workers’ compensation does not fully cover all of the losses an employee experiences, that employee may be wondering whether it is possible to file a personal injury claim instead to seek additional compensation.
Generally speaking, the Ohio workers’ compensation system prevents a worker from filing a claim against a negligent employer, but there may be some situations in which a third-party lawsuit is possible. We want to provide you with more information about filing a lawsuit instead of—or in addition to—a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ Compensation Does Not Consider Fault
If you are wondering whether you can file a lawsuit against your employer or another coworker because of that person’s negligence instead of filing for workers’ compensation benefits, the answer is likely “no.” In Ohio, as in other states across the country, workers’ compensation benefits do not take into account the fault of the employer, coworkers, or even the employee who is seeking benefits. Workers’ compensation is in place to ensure that injured workers can obtain compensation for losses that occur as a result of workplace injuries. Given the nature of workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers cannot seek benefits and then file a lawsuit against an employer or co-worker on a theory of negligence.
To be clear, even if your employer made a mistake and failed to provide appropriate training for a particular piece of equipment and that lack of training resulted in your injuries, it is unlikely that you will be able to sue your employer. Similarly, if a coworker fell asleep on the job and caused your injuries as a result of his or her fatigue, it is unlikely that you can file a lawsuit against that coworker. It works the other way, too—even if you were at fault for your injuries, you can still get workers’ comp benefits.
Filing a Third-Party Lawsuit
Even though the workers’ compensation system does not have a path for workers to file negligence claims against employers, an injured worker may still be able to file a third-party lawsuit against someone outside the place of employment. For example, if a Cleveland construction worker is injured on a roadside job by a distracted driver who fails to obey the construction traffic rules, that distracted driver may be liable for damages. In such a scenario, the injured worker may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit based on that driver’s negligence.
Also, for instance, if a worker gets hurt at work while using a machine that has a defective component, the injured worker may be able to file a third-party lawsuit against the designer or manufacturer.
Contact a Cleveland Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you need assistance with your workers’ comp claim or have questions about a third-party lawsuit, an aggressive Ohio workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you. Contact Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg, Co., L.P.A. for more information about our services.