Like other states, California has a workers’ compensation system in place to address worker injuries that occur on the job. The upside of the system is that an employee injured at work does not have to prove fault on the part of the employer to collect a financial recovery, but the significant downside is that the worker’s recovery is often limited to medical costs and a fraction of the lost income that results of the injury. This is in contrast to a civil lawsuit where an injured victim does need to prove fault on the part of the defendant, but the plaintiff can recover all costs resulting from the injury, including all medical costs, all future lost income and reduced earning potential, pain and suffering over the plaintiff’s lifetime, and punitive damages in some cases. That said, many workers are limited by the workers’ compensation system in their ability to bring a civil lawsuit, but here are a few situations in which a worker may indeed be able to bring a civil lawsuit.
Were You Injured by a Defective Product?
If you were injured by a product that was either defectively designed or manufactured, then you can bring a product liability suit against the manufacturer and/or seller of the product. For example, if you were injured by use of a machine that was designed without reasonable safeguards or manufactured without those safeguards properly in place, you can bring suit for your injuries. In some cases, you can also bring a civil suit against your employer if the employer improperly removed safeguards on a tool or machine.
Were You Intentionally Injured by Another?
If you were intentionally injured by another party on the job – whether a fellow worker or some other individual – you likely have the option of pursuing a civil suit for your injuries outside of workers’ compensation. Furthermore, if the intentional injury, for example a physical assault, was inflicted by another worker in the scope of employment, you may have a cause of action for vicarious liability against the employer. In some cases, you may also have a civil claim if the conduct causing the injury was not necessarily intentional but nevertheless reckless.
Did Your Employer Evade Its Duties Under the Law?
Employers in California are required to protect their workers through taking actions such as maintaining workers’ compensation insurance and properly responding to workers’ compensation filings from workers. If your employer did not maintain a workers’ compensation policy or took some action to conceal the connection between workplace conditions and your injuries, then you may be able to pursue a civil claim for damages above and beyond what would be available under the workers’ compensation system.
Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys in the Inland Empire
At McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, our personal injury team – led by partner Cory Weck, a Marine Corps officer with over 20 years of service to his country and 15 years of experience litigating personal injury cases – has repeatedly won verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients across the Inland Empire in the millions of dollars. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys to determine whether you may have a civil claim for a workplace injury.