Over the past decade, developments in workers’ compensation law in Missouri have only gone backwards, pulling away protections that workers once counted on. One of these repealed protections was the ability of hurt workers to sue co-workers for a personal injury caused by the co-worker. Especially in light of the opioid crisis, which has increased the number of accidents that happen on the job, losing this legal right has been a huge blow to workers who deserve to be fully compensated regardless of where their injuries occurred.
You Used to Be Able to Sue Co-Workers for Their Negligence
The law in Missouri used to be that, if you got hurt at work because of a co-worker’s negligence, you could file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer, and also a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent worker. After all, workers’ compensation claims are meant to be a tradeoff with your employer: While you will not receive all of the compensation you might deserve, workers’ compensation claims let you return to work once you recovered.
Therefore, being able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent co-worker allowed injured employees to get workers’ compensation from their employer, and then the compensation from the co-worker that workers’ compensation would not cover.
The specific statute that allowed this was Missouri Revised Statute § 287.120.
The State of Missouri Changed the Rules in 2012
However, the Missouri Legislature changed the law in 2012. In a move that was designed to benefit businesses across the state, the Legislature prohibited lawsuits by hurt employees against their co-workers for injuries caused by their negligence. Instead, if you get hurt on the job and file a workers’ compensation claim, the new law means you cannot then file a personal injury lawsuit against a co-worker, unless what the co-worker did was “an affirmative negligent act that purposefully and dangerously caused or increased the risk of injury.”
How the Opioid Crisis Makes Things Even Worse
News articles describing how bad the opioid crisis has gotten are everywhere. Some of these addicts, however, are still working, and some of those workers are under the influence while on the job. When they are, though, you could be the one who gets hurt through their negligent conduct. Now that Missouri prohibits lawsuits against co-workers for workplace injuries caused by their negligence, though, you could be left without the full compensation package that you need and deserve.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
If you have been hurt while on the job by a co-worker, you have fewer legal options in Missouri than you would have if the accident happened elsewhere. Making the right choices as you pursue your legal rights to compensation is crucial. The workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys at the Smith Law Office can help.
Call their St. Joseph law office at (816) 875-9373 or contact them online to get the legal representation that you need to get fully compensated for the recovery that you deserve.