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Northwest OH Legal Blog

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I filed a Workers’ Compensation Claim, But Can I Sue My Employer?

Often, an injured worker will wonder if they are able to sue their employer for their workplace injury because they feel it is responsible. This blog post is limited this issue. Workers’ Compensation laws do not affect an employee’s ability to sue for discrimination, harassment, non-payment of wages, etc.

Unfortunately, there are very limited circumstances in which an injured can sue an employer for his or her injury, leaving Workers’ Compensation as the only way to receive benefits. While this may not seem fair, keeping workplace injuries out of the Courts benefits the injured workers as well. Prior to the enactment of Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation laws in the early twentieth century, an employee who was hurt at work was required to sue the employer, if they wanted to receive any benefits. This meant convincing a jury or a judge that the workplace injury was the employer’s fault. Any injury that was purely accidental meant the injured worker would go away penniless. Workers’ Compensation laws were developed so that any injury, regardless of fault, would be covered.

However, Ohio Rev. Code § 2745.01 allows an injured worker to sue his or her employer for the injury if it is proven that the employer intended to injure the worker or was “substantially certain” the worker would be injured. The statute defines “substantially certain” as acting “with deliberate intent to cause an employee to suffer an injury, a disease, a condition, or death.” However, if an employer removes safety guards or misrepresents a toxic or hazardous substance, it would be up to the employer to prove it did not intend for the worker to get hurt.

In practice, it is very difficult to prove an employer intended for an employee to get hurt. The Supreme Court interpreted this statute to require a finding that the employer intended for the employee to get injured. In other words, if you want to take your employer to Court, you have to prove that they wanted you to get hurt. From our perspective, this is an unfair result and limits our clients’ potential recovery.

But remember, you are still entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits if you are hurt at work for any reason, with very limited exceptions such as fraud. There is also the potential for additional compensation from the BWC if the employer violated a specific safety standard, but this is a topic for another blog post. 


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With offices in Toledo and Lima, OH Allotta Farley Co., L.P.A. serves clients throughout northwest OH with various legal matters. Areas of service include Allen County, Ashland County, Auglaize County, Crawford County, Defiance County, Erie County, Fulton County, Hancock County, Hardin County, Henry County, Huron County, Lucas County, Marion County, Mercer County, Morrow County, Ottawa County, Paulding County, Putnam County, Richland County, Sandusky County, Seneca County, Van Wert County, Williams County, Wood County, Wyandot County.

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