Virtually all states have some provision in their worker’s compensation statute which bars injured workers from filing a civil lawsuit against their employer or a co-employee for negligent acts which caused the injury. Some states have exceptions, but these are often very narrow. The law which prohibits lawsuits against employers or co-employees is often referred to as “the exclusive remedy provision,” as in, “worker’s compensation is your only remedy for on-the-job injuries.” Basically, it is the trade-off for getting no-fault worker’s compensation benefits.
Where the exclusive remedy provision bars lawsuits against co-workers or your employer, in the vast majority of states, it does not bar you from filing a lawsuit against anyone else who may be to blame for the accident which caused your injuries.
In a civil lawsuit, the range of damages you can receive are wider than you can receive in a worker’s compensation case. These include:
- 100% of your lost wages
- Payment of your medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Past and future disability
- Emotional distress
The interaction between a civil case and a worker’s compensation case is complex and we recommend consulting with a well-qualified lawyer to get a fuller understanding of how the two kinds of cases interact.