Find the right lawyer now

Workplace Injuries and Non-Workers Compensation Claims

Find a Local Employment Lawyer near You

What Is a Workplace Injury?

A workplace injury or workplace accident is any injury that occurs during employment, at the usual site for work.  However, not all “on the job” injuries can be compensated for through workers compensation. This is because workers compensation requires that the injury be related to the job task or the employee’s job descriptions. Thus, the injury also needs to be “job-related” in order to be covered by workers compensation.

There are many situations where you may be able to sue outside of normal workers compensation routes. In fact, it sometimes may be necessary to file a non-workers compensation claim, especially where worker’s compensation isn’t available as an option for recovery. 

Is it Possible to Sue Without Going Through Workers Compensation Routes?

Many workers don’t pursue legal action for their injuries simply because they aren’t aware of all the options available to them.  Employees may continue to suffer through losses once they learn that workers compensation isn’t an option. However, there are many options for legal remedies outside of workers compensation.  

Some examples of non-workers compensation claims include:

  • Defective Products: If you were injured at work due to a defective product, you might be able to sue based on a products liability theory against the manufacturer. A common example of this is a defective assembly machine. 
  • Toxic Exposure: If you were exposed to toxic substances at your workplace, you could file a toxic tort suit against the party that manufactured the substance.
  • Intentional/Egregious Acts by Employer: You may file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer, if their intentional or egregious conduct has caused your injury.  
  • Lack of Insurance: If your employer has failed to carry workers compensation insurance, it may be possible to sue them in a private civil lawsuit. Alternatively, you might be able to collect reimbursements through state funds.

What Types of Damages can be Recovered?

These non-workers compensation claims often yield greater possibilities for an injured party recovering damages for their losses. This is because in a typical workers compensation claim, disability payments are usually somewhat low. They may not cover all the expenses and losses that have to be shouldered by the injured party. 

In comparison, a successful non-workers compensation lawsuit will typically cover:

  • Medical expenses, such as hospital bills, payments for medicines, rehab and therapy sessions, etc.
  • Lost wages and loss of earning capacity due to the injury
  • Any damage to personal property or belongings

Finally, one major difference between workers compensation and a private lawsuit is the availability of punitive damages. Punitive damages aren’t available in workers compensation claims, but they are often a major aspect of a civil lawsuit. A punitive damages award can help deter the employer or third party from committing the same violations again, and they can often result in a significantly higher damages award for the plaintiff.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you’ve been injured at your work, but the injury isn’t job related, you may still be able to recover your losses without going through workers compensation.  In such a case, you will benefit greatly from hiring a personal injury lawyer in your area. Your attorney can assist you in filing the lawsuit, and can help identify the laws, witnesses, and evidence that will be useful for your case.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 06-10-2014 11:47 AM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.