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Should I sue my employer or file for workers' compensation?

Imagine your boss comes to work drunk, angry and violent one day. You're trying to mind your business and do your job, but he comes after you swinging -- and actually beats you up.

Your injuries are severe and they require medical care. They also happened on the job. Should you file a workers' compensation claim, or do you have the right to file another kind of action?

Circumstances when you can file a personal injury claim against an employer

In the vast majority of cases, if an injury happens while you're performing your job duties, you will not be able to sue your employer. Rather, if it's a job-related injury, you'll need to file a workers' compensation claim to pursue money to pay for your medical care and time spent unable to work.

However, there are certain instances -- like in the case of being battered or attacked on the job -- that you can sue your employer by filing a personal injury action in civil court. Here are some other situations in which you can file such a claim:

  • Battery or physical attack: If your boss or someone at work attacks you and physically harms you, then you can probably file a personal injury action to hold your employer responsible.
  • Assault: This classification involves the attempt to commit battery against you. If someone intended to hurt you or threatened to hurt you, it classifies as an assault.
  • Unlawful confinement: False imprisonment or unlawful confinement could involve an employer trapping you unlawfully and against your will.
  • Infliction of emotional distress: We've all had the kind of boss who seems to do things just to upset us while we're performing our jobs. When this kind of behavior is so severe that it causes emotional trauma because of your boss's terrible conduct, you may be able to file a personal injury claim.
  • Fraud: If a lie told to you by your employer results in your injury, you may have the grounds to file suit.
  • Defamation: This happens when your boss or someone at work defames you, lies about you, and causes damage to your reputation and career.
  • Privacy invasions: If someone at work takes your private photos or private information and shares them with an unapproved and large audience, it represents a violation of your privacy.
  • Conversion: This refers to your boss or company taking your property without your permission.

Did your employer hurt you at work?

All of the above examples involve an employer doing something purposeful that resulted in physical or financial injuries to an employee or employer. If something like this happened to you at work, you might have a cause of action to file a personal injury action either as a part of or instead of a workers' compensation claim. As such, it would be prudent to investigate your legal rights and options in this regard.

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