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When Can You Sue an Employer Directly After an Injury Instead of Going through Workers’ Compensation?

June 13, 2022

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In Ohio, almost all employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Doing so not only protects their employees in case they get hurt on the job and can’t work, but it also protects the employers themselves from liability for their workers’ on-the-job injuries and illnesses.

That means, in most cases, workers who get hurt or sick on the job can’t sue their employers for their lost wages and medical bills. Instead, they must go through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to get their claims reviewed and approved.

However, there are exceptions to this.

You Can Sue Your Employer Directly If They Don’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance but Are Required to Get it

If you get hurt on the job and learn your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance, even though they are required to have it according to Ohio law, you can still file a claim through the BWC. That’s because Ohio has an uninsured employer fund that’s designed to compensate injured workers whose employers either never purchased workers’ compensation coverage or allowed their policies to lapse.

However, you also may be able to sue your employer directly instead of going through the BWC. That’s because employers who fail to have valid workers’ compensation insurance open themselves up to liability for on-the-job illnesses and injuries. Talk to one of our experienced Ohio workers’ compensation attorneys to learn what your options are in this situation.

You Can Sue Your Employer Directly if They Intentionally Set Out to Injure You

It’s possible to file both a workers’ compensation claim AND sue your employer directly. This is most common after injuries or illnesses that occurred due to employers acting in a manner that they believe will intentionally injure their employees or in which they create a situation where an injury is “substantially certain” to occur.

Examples of these types of injuries and illnesses include employers intentionally removing safe guards, manipulating safety equipment to fail, or misrepresenting toxic or hazardous substances that workers will come into contact with. These types of cases require significant proof and experienced legal representation to win.

You Can Sue Other Parties Directly and Still File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Some at-work injuries occur because of other people’s or companies’ negligence and not because of employers’ negligence. For example, a worker may be able to sue a coworker for causing a car crash that injured them if the coworker was driving recklessly while they were riding with them.

In addition, injured workers can sue the manufacturers of defective products, chemicals, and devices that they were required to use as part of their jobs. For example, a worker who develops cancer as a result of daily exposure to a certain chemical for decades may be able to file workers’ compensation benefits and also sue the manufacturer of the chemical.

Let Us Help You Determine Your Best Path Towards Maximum Compensation

If you suffer an injury or illness at work and find out your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation coverage, it’s important to talk to an experienced lawyer about your best option to get compensation. In many cases, going through the BWC’s uninsured employers fund is your best bet for getting the benefits you need for your lost wages and medical bills.

However, all cases are different. For example, workers’ compensation doesn’t provide benefits for pain and suffering, which can be significant after certain on-the-job injuries and illnesses. At the same time, the BWC may demand to recoup some or all of the money it pays you through workers’ compensation if you later win a lawsuit against your employer.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we understand the complexities and nuances of workers’ compensation cases in Ohio. Few cases are straightforward, and most require significant experience, a deep knowledge of the law, and an aggressive approach. Contact our Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers today for a free consultation to find out how we can help you get the money you’re owed.

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