In a recent blog post, we looked at whether workers’ compensation was an exclusive remedy for workers who have been hurt on the job. Generally, it is: Injured workers have to go through the workers’ compensation system, rather than file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.
However, there are exceptions to this rule that can let workers file a lawsuit against their employer and try to recover the full extent of the compensation that they deserve. Unfortunately, Missouri law has drawn these exceptions extremely narrowly in an attempt to shield businesses from potential liability.
Are There Exceptions to the Exclusive Remedy Rule?
In Missouri, there are three situations where workers who have been hurt on the job can file a personal injury lawsuit rather than pursuing workers’ compensation:
- The employer intentionally caused the injury
- The injury was caused by a third party
- The employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance
However, even these limited exceptions are narrowly drawn.
The clearest situation where a hurt worker can sue their employer is when the employer intentionally caused the injury. If the employer deliberately assaults a worker, they lose the liability protection afforded by the workers’ compensation system.
However, these situations are also exceptionally rare. Additionally, in Missouri, the intent of the employer has to be explicit. It is not enough for the employer to put the worker in danger of an injury.
Injuries Caused By Third Parties
A far more common scenario is when a third party – be it a customer, client, property owner, or coworker – causes an injury on the worksite. When this happens, the lawsuit is not filed against the employer, though: It is filed against the person or party that caused the injury. So, for example, if a plumber gets bit by a dog during a house call, the lawsuit would go against the dog’s owner, not the plumbing company.
Even in Missouri, though, these lawsuits involving coworker liability are limited. Workers’ compensation is still the exclusive remedy if the coworker or supervisor intentionally increased the risk of injury, but did so for the purpose of increasing productivity.
No Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Finally, injured workers can file a personal injury claim if their employer does not carry workers’ compensation coverage. While employers are legally required to carry workers’ compensation, many refuse to do so because it costs money. Without the coverage, though, they cannot benefit from the liability protections that Missouri’s workers’ compensation system affords.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
The personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at the Smith Law Office strive to legally represent injured workers in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri, helping them recover the compensation they need and deserve. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373 for help.