Some injured workers feel that their own errors resulted in their injuries. Other workers know that their employer did something wrong. If you believe that your employer caused your workplace injury, holding the company accountable may be on your mind.
In Minnesota, the workers’ compensation system does not operate the same way as a civil court. You cannot file a claim and get a ruling stating that your employer caused your injury. Instead, the state has a no-fault system. (Minn. Stat. § 176.021 subd. 1.) Workers do not bear the burden of proof, and employers do not have to pay damages for injuries they caused.
The no-fault system is a bitter pill to swallow for employees harmed by dangerous conditions their employers encouraged or failed to fix. Ultimately, most employees can receive wage-loss benefits and payment for their medical expenses, not civil damages for emotional distress and pain and suffering. If an employee were to bring a civil suit, the insurance company can assert a defense that workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for the harm caused to a worker. This is true even if the insurance company previously denied the worker’s claim for benefits.
There are a few exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule. A worker injured by another employee who was grossly negligent or intentionally harmed the worker has grounds for a civil suit against the other employee. Unfortunately, proving gross negligence or intentional harm can be difficult depending on what happened in an individual case. You could also sue your employer for various torts, including battery, assault, or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Again, it can be difficult to prove that these violations arose outside the purview of the workers’ compensation system.
If a third party injured the worker, the worker may sue the third party for damages in civil court. For example, the worker could sue a driver who caused a car accident that injured the worker. In recent years, workers have brought lawsuits against manufacturers of defective or dangerous products that cause injury when used.
Finally, you can file a health and safety complaint against your employer if your injury resulted from dangerous conditions on the job. Minnesota OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) handles these complaints and checks for the employer’s compliance. A worker out on leave who is concerned about his or her coworkers’ safety due to the hazard that caused the worker’s injury might consider notifying MNOSHA. Further, employers must notify MNOSHA if certain serious workplace accidents occur.
Did your employer cause your workplace injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.