Baltimore Work Injury Law Firm: Injured at Work — Can I Sue My Employer?January 1, 2014
Generally speaking, no. Under most circumstances, as long as Maryland’s workers’ compensation laws cover your employer, you waive the right to sue your employer for personal injury for monies additional to workers’ compensation payments. State legislatures designed workers’ compensation programs to streamline reimbursement for workplace injuries, saving workers the trouble of having to prove fault in a courtroom setting. You should be able to receive workers’ compensation payments for any workplace injury, even if you bear most of the responsibility for causing it. In exchange, recovery for workplace injuries is limited and strictly regulated.
In some cases, the circumstances leading up to your injury are so egregious that Maryland law permits you to step outside of the workers’ compensation environment, and actually sue your employer. If your injury resulted from your employer’s intentional, reckless or illegal actions, you may refuse workers’ compensation and sue in tort for personal injury.
For example, say you work in construction and ask your foreman or boss for basic, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-required safety equipment for working on, assembling or disassembling scaffolding — statistically, one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Your employer refuses or otherwise fails to provide safety gear or to modify the scaffold structure such that it complies with federal and state law, and you fall. This sort of scenario may move beyond ordinary workplace accidents and into the realm of intentional, reckless and illegal actions.
Workers’ compensation laws require employers to pay for workplace injuries, regardless of cause. But if you move outside of the workers’ compensation system, you not only have to show the extent of your injury, but you must show that your employer’s reckless, intentional or criminal behavior caused your injury. While workers’ compensation disputes are common, and employers often fight to avoid paying what injured workers deserve, those fights hardly ever focus on causation.
While you always want an attorney to represent you in even the most mundane workers’ compensation case, you really need the assistance of a skilled Baltimore personal injury lawyer if you decide to sue in tort rather than enforce your rights under workers’ compensation. If you have been injured at work, contact the Baltimore work injury law firm of LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. to discuss your legal rights and options.