When is it possible to sue my coworker for my workplace injuries?
Workers’ compensation and personal injury claims can often be confused as working the same way. However, a personal injury case is when a person sues an at-fault party for damages they suffered. In contrast, an injured employee gets compensated exclusively through the workers’ compensation system, and typically, they cannot sue their employer or coworker.
If you were injured as a result of a workplace accident that a coworker caused, are you ever able to sue them for damages?
In Most Cases, You Cannot Sue a Coworker for Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation uses a no-fault system, meaning that you will get compensation if you were injured at your place of work—no matter who caused the accident that led to your injuries. Since you will be compensated through the workers’ comp system, you cannot additionally sue your coworker or employer for damages. This aspect is called the exclusive remedy system of workers’ comp.
As a result of these systems, most injured parties cannot sue their coworker for their injuries. While an injury can clearly be determined as the result of a coworker’s actions, workers’ compensation held by the business is what ensures you get compensation.
However, There are Some Exceptions
- No Workers’ Comp Coverage – In some cases, you may file a lawsuit against a coworker. The exception that makes this possible is that your place of work does not have workers’ compensation coverage. If this is the case, you may file a lawsuit against the coworker. However, this is not very common, as most companies are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in South Carolina.
- It Was an Assault – It is also possible to sue your coworker for injuries that were sustained due to willful or intentional acts carried out by them. These circumstances are generally severe circumstances like an attack or assault on you by your coworker, but they could also involve a poorly executed prank that led to injuries. Even if your employer has workers’ comp insurance, it may not cover this type of injury, making it possible for you to file a lawsuit.
- They Are Not Truly a Coworker – Sometimes, a person you consider a coworker technically isn’t because they are under another agency or employer. If your company has a hire from a temp agency or some other third party, while they might be working in the same area as you, they are under a different agency than you are.
These are a few of the unique circumstances that could allow you to file a lawsuit after you suffered workplace injuries. Gray areas are always possible in the legal system. It is better to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help understand all your options so that you receive the compensation you deserve—whether it’s through workers’ compensation or a personal injury lawsuit.