Monday, December 13, 2010
Can I Sue My Employer in an Arizona Work injury?
With very few exceptions, a worker injured on the job in Arizona cannot win a suit against their employer for injuries sustained in an on-the-job accident. Even if the Employer's negligence contributed to or caused the injury, the worker's only remedy is usually a workers' compensation claim. This is known as the Rule of Exclusivity. This rule was conceived by the legislature and represents a compromise between the interests of the worker and the employer. The injured worker doesn't have the burden of proving negligence as they did in the past, but is limited in their recovery to cost of medical bills and lost wages. The employer has to cover every injury that occurs in the workplace, but has immunity from potentially greater damages in a tort lawsuit. This compromise usually works in favor of the employee, as the majority of work injuries are not the result of fault of any party, but simply the risks involved in performing certain jobs.
There are a few exceptions to the Rule of Excusivity. For example, if an employer fails to post notices informing their employees of their right to reject coverage, if the Employer does not carry workers compensation coverage, or if the Employer's "willful conduct" causes the injury, the injured worker may have a lawsuit in civil court, as well as a workers compensation claim in some cases. A civil court case is sometimes more lucrative because the damages are not limited to medical bills and lost wages, as in a workers compensation claim.
If the injury was caused by someone OTHER THAN the Employer, the injured worker can pursue a "third party" personal injury claim against that person or company, and still have rights to a workers compensation claim.
Any questions about a possible workers compensation claim or Third Party liability claim, can be directed to the attorneys at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley, an Arizona law firm that limits its practice to the representation of workers injured on the job in Arizona.