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Can I Sue My Employer Directly for a Workplace Injury?

Accidents and injuries can happen in any workplace, leaving employees wondering about their rights to seek compensation. If you are injured on the job in Wisconsin, you might be curious if you can sue your employer directly for the harm you’ve suffered.

The answer, in most cases, is no. However, the Green Bay workers’ compensation lawyers at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers can help you understand your rights and options regarding filing a workers’ compensation claim instead.

Why Can’t You Sue Your Employer in Most Cases?

Under the Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1911, injured workers in Wisconsin are generally prevented from suing their employers directly for workplace injuries. Instead, they must seek benefits through the workers’ compensation system.

The Workmen’s Compensation Act shifted how employees are compensated for workplace injuries in Wisconsin. This legislation created a “no-fault” system, meaning that workers were no longer required to prove negligence by their employers to seek coverage for medical costs and missed wages.

Workers seeking compensation under the Act are entitled to benefits, including:

  • Certain wage loss benefits: Compensation for lost wages during recovery. This varies based on the type of benefit received. In Wisconsin, the weekly benefit rate for wages is two-thirds of the worker’s wage at the time of injury, up to the allowed maximum for the year.
  • Medical treatment costs: Coverage for the cost of necessary medical treatment. This is in addition to weekly wage benefits. Unlike some states, Wisconsin allows employees to choose their own medical provider, such as a physician, chiropractor, psychologist, or dentist, as long as they are licensed in the state.
  • Disability payments: Payments for specific disability levels, including Temporary Total Disability (TTD), Temporary Partial Disability (TPD), Permanent Partial Disability (PPD), or Permanent Total Disability (PD).
  • Vocational rehabilitation retraining: Support for vocational retraining if needed. This can include up to 80 weeks of retaining, job placement services, or career planning.

Can You Get Extra Compensation if an Employer Violates Safety Orders?

In addition to the standard benefits for workers’ compensation, you may be entitled to additional coverages. If your employer violates established safety orders, statutes, or rules, and the violation directly causes your work injury, your employer may be liable for paying you higher benefits.

This means you could receive a 15% increase in compensation, up to a maximum of $15,000. This provision encourages employers to maintain a safe work environment and adhere to safety regulations. It also awards extra benefits to employees who have suffered an injury due to specifically negligent actions by the employer.

When Can You File a Lawsuit Against an “Employer”?

While the law generally prevents injured workers in Wisconsin from directly suing their employers for workplace injuries, there are situations where you can take legal action against parties other than your employer. These can include: 

  • Third-party liability: If your injury was caused by a third party who is not your employer or a co-worker, you might be able to sue them for negligence. This could include situations where a defective product or equipment caused your injury or if another company’s negligence contributed to the accident.
  • Intentional harm: If your employer intentionally caused your injury or engaged in egregious conduct that led to your injury, you might have grounds to sue them outside of the workers’ compensation system. However, this is rare and requires seeking legal counsel from a skilled workers’ compensation attorney.
  • Exceptions for certain employers: Some employers, such as agricultural employers or those with fewer than three employees, might not be covered by workers’ compensation laws. In these cases, you might have the option to sue the employer.

If your case meets the grounds for a third-party lawsuit, you may be able to receive compensation for medical bills, missed wages, and pain and suffering.

Seek Compensation for Workplace Injuries

If you suffered a serious injury while on the job, you have several options for compensation. However, knowing whether you can sue your employer directly or if you should file a workers’ compensation claim can be difficult.

Our Green Bay workers’ compensation lawyers at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers are experienced in handling worksite injury claims.

We can look at the evidence in your case to determine if you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits, including additional competition for employer negligence. If not, we can help you file a personal injury claim against the third party that caused your injury to help you pay for your damages.

Our legal team is knowledgeable and experienced in Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation system, and we’re committed to helping you secure the compensation you are entitled to. Contact us today for a free consultation to get started on your case.

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