November 24, 2020

Can I File a Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit if I am Injured by a Co-Worker?

Workplace injuries in the United States

Workplace injuries happen every day and there are plenty of workers’ compensation statistics to prove it.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 2.8 million workplace injuries documented in the United States in 2019.

That equates to about 5.3 injuries documented every minute of the calendar year.

That number also includes weekend hours, so the average is actually several digits higher if you are calculating only normal weekday hours.

With that in mind, it is easy to speculate on the vast number of situations or causes for an injury in the workplace.

With all those injuries there are also plenty of workers’ compensation lawsuits.

What types of things does workers’ compensation cover?

All in all, most states have very similar workers’ compensation laws, but what exactly is required by the state and what your employer covers is an extremely important factor when determining whether or not you are eligible for workers’ compensation after an injury or illness caused by a co-worker.

Common compensation covered by workman’s comp include:

  • Payment for lost wages
  • Medical costs or assistance
  • Temporary disability
  • Permanent disability

Related: What are workers’ compensation benefits and how do they work?

Workers’ Compensation due to an injury from a co-worker

For most, when thinking about what may be grounds for receiving workers’ comp benefits, they think of being injured on a construction site or becoming ill after being exposed to a harmful chemical.

However, workers’ compensation covers many other workplace injuries or illnesses.

Like all legal matters (or any matter involving compensation) workers’ compensation can seem extremely complex.

Even though there are plenty of workers’ compensation blog articles and resources available online, the truth is, each case is different.

And, to make things even more difficult, each state has different workers’ compensation laws.

Workers’ comp laws in North Carolina, for instance, are different than Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws.

There are also a seemingly endless number of rules and stipulations buried within your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance guidelines.

The point is, we understand the complexities of workplace injuries, and as workers’ compensation attorneys, we hope to clear up some of your questions regarding workplace injuries regarding co-workers.

Workplace injuries due to a co-worker’s negligence

In some cases, negligence may seem like too harsh of a word, but in reality, accidents are oftentimes caused by negligence.

One scenario might be your co-worker is driving a forklift and turns a corner and injures you after running over your foot.

Now, obviously, who is at fault will depend on the protocols and safety rules in place at your workplace, but, for the sake of this article, we will say your co-worker is at fault.

Some employers may try and argue that the employee (your co-worker) is at fault for not following the their safety protocols, but any workers’ compensation lawyer will tell you that, according to the department of labor, that is incorrect.

An employer is responsible for all of their employees and their actions in the workplace.

So, to sum things up, you are entitled to workers’ compensation if you sustain injuries or an illness in the workplace due to a co-workers’ negligence.

Injuries from a workplace assault

Injuries on the job come in a seemingly infinite number of situations, and while 5,147 workplace deaths may seem like a lot, it is a number compared to the number of people killed by violence each year.

Murders and assaults are apart of everyday life in many parts of the United States, so it is obvious some of this violence happens in the workplace.

In fact, according to the National Safety Council, workplace violence is the fourth most common cause of workplace fatalities.

Their statistics state that in 2018 alone, nearly 21,000 people were injured and over 450 people died due to workplace violence.

Am I eligible for workers’ compensation if I was injured by another employee?

Here we cross two different lawsuits/forms of compensation: personal injury and workers’ compensation lawsuits

One scenario where this question may be asked is this:

You and a co-worker get into an argument over who is responsible for feeding the office cat and, out of frustration, he or she pushes you causing you to fall down and hit your head.

If the incident during work hours, your employer will almost certainly be required to provide workers’ compensation benefits.

However, there are common stipulations when it comes to workplace injuries involving co-workers (or workplace injuries in general).

If you get into a fight or you are assaulted due to an altercation involving a situation not related to work, you will likely not be eligible for workers’ compensation.

Can I sue my co-worker and receive workers’ compensation?

The answer to this question will rely exclusively on the situation.

If you are injured at work by a co-worker, you may want to seek additional compensation that your workers’ compensation does not cover.

This is called a third-party lawsuit.

You can essentially sue (or attempt to sue) anyone at any time.

Whether or not there are legitimate grounds for your case is another story.

But, without getting into the complexities and different scenarios that may take place, the short answer is yes, you can file a lawsuit against your co-worker even if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Summing up the topic of workers’ compensation and co-worker negligence

Here is a breakdown of common scenarios involving workman’s comp due to injuries caused by a co-worker:

  • If you are injured due to a co-workers’ accident or negligence, you can receive worker’s compensation
  • If you are injured by an employee during a workplace-related dispute, you will most likely receive workers’ compensation
  • If you are injured by an employee during a non-workplace related dispute, you will likely not be eligible for workers’ compensation
  • Even if you are receiving worker’s compensation, you can still file a personal injury or criminal lawsuit against a co-workers

Have questions about your worker’s compensation? Lou Waple is a Charlotte Workers’ Comp law firm working with clients around the state of North Carolina.