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Can I Sue My Employer if I Get Hurt on the Job?

By Jeremy Bradford
Founding Partner

Unfortunately, workplace accidents and injuries are common occurrences. If you’ve suffered an injury on the job, you may wonder whether you can sue your employer for compensation. 

In North Carolina, the answer is not always straightforward, as the state’s workers’ compensation system provides certain protections for both employees and employers. It’s important to understand the options available to injured workers and the circumstances under which you may be able to sue your employer.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System

In most cases, if you’re injured on the job in North Carolina, your primary means of seeking compensation will be through a workers’ comp claim. This no-fault insurance program provides benefits to employees who suffer injuries or illnesses in the course of their work, regardless of who caused the incident.

Under the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, injured employees can receive:

  • Medical Benefits – Coverage for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to the work injury, including hospital bills, doctor visits, medication, and rehabilitation
  • Wage Replacement – Partial wage replacement benefits, typically two-thirds of your average weekly wage, if you’re unable to work due to your injury
  • Disability Benefits – Compensation for permanent partial or total disability if your injury results in long-term impairment
  • Death Benefits – Payments to surviving family members if a work-related injury or illness results in the employee’s death

In exchange for these guaranteed benefits, employees generally give up the right to sue their employer for a work-related injury, even if the employer’s negligence caused the accident.

Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation Exclusivity

While the workers’ compensation system limits an employee’s ability to sue their employer, there are some exceptions to this rule. You may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer if:

  • Your Employer Intentionally Caused Your Injury – If your employer deliberately harmed you or engaged in conduct that was substantially certain to cause serious injury or death, you may be able to sue for compensation outside of the workers’ comp system.
  • Your Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance – If your employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance but fails to do so, you may be able to sue them directly for your injuries and losses.
  • Your Injury Was Caused by a Third Party – If your work-related injury resulted from the negligence of someone other than your employer or a co-worker, such as a subcontractor or equipment manufacturer, you may be able to file a third-party liability claim against that entity.

Keep in mind that these exceptions are relatively rare. Most work-related injuries will be covered exclusively by the workers’ compensation system.

Steps to Take After a Workplace Injury

If you’ve been hurt on the job, it’s essential to take the following steps to protect your health and legal rights:

  • Report the injury to your employer
  • Seek medical attention
  • File a workers’ compensation claim
  • Follow your doctor’s orders
  • Consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney

The Role of a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

While you’re not required to hire an attorney to file a workers’ compensation claim, having experienced legal representation can be valuable, especially if your claim is denied or you believe you may have grounds for a lawsuit against your employer or a third party.

A skilled workers’ compensation attorney can:

  • Help you gather evidence to support your claim
  • Negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf
  • Represent you at hearings or appeals
  • Identify potential third-party claims or exceptions to workers’ compensation exclusivity
  • Fight for the maximum benefits and compensation you deserve

Contact a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

If you’ve been injured on the job in North Carolina, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation. While the workers’ compensation system generally limits your ability to sue your employer, there are some exceptions to this rule, and you may have additional avenues for recovery.

The knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys at Bradford Law are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn how we can help you move forward after a workplace injury.

About the Author
I am Jeremy Bradford, the founding and managing attorney of Bradford Law. From my offices in Charlotte, NC, I travel all across North Carolina helping injured people fight against insurance companies, in what could be life-altering circumstances. I have made a point to develop strong relationships with my clients. I take the trust my clients put in me personally and put myself into every case. If my client calls, my client will always be able to speak directly with me. You will get to know me as we work our way through the personal injury process. So when we make recommendations on whether to settle or go to trial, you will know your best interests are always at heart.