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Michael J. Duber and Brandon T. Duber

What if my employer caused my accident?

Oct 18, 2023 |

It can be difficult to fathom the possibility that an employer willfully tried to injure an employee. This goes beyond pure negligence and seeps into willful intent. It is important to know that this does happen and state law has a specific statute on the books to address it.

If there is a suspicion or outright evidence that an employer committed this type of act, it is imperative to understand how workplace intentional torts can be used to hold them accountable.

A workplace intentional tort differs from workers’ compensation

Even though the incident and injury occurred while working, there is a major difference between a workplace intentional tort and a workers’ compensation claim. According to the law, the employer who is accused of intentionally causing a worker injury will be held liable if the employee or their family members left behind prove that the act was committed with the intention of causing injury or while they believed that the injury was going to happen.

The term “substantially certain” is used under the law regarding the potential for injury. It means that the employer’s behavior was undertaken with the objective to injure the employee, cause them to contract a disease, suffer from a condition or lose their life.

Examples of how this can happen are if the employer intentionally moves safety items or misrepresents substances that can be damaging or fatal. That could include removing protective eye wear, not having a safety bar when a worker is stationed at a great height or not informing the employee that touching toxic material without gloves or other protections can harm them.

Recognizing when employers intentionally caused injuries or death

When getting past the disbelief that an employer intentionally tried to hurt an employee, it is essential to look at the entire situation, analyze the circumstances and know what options are available.

These cases are significantly different from a normal workers’ compensation claim. If a worker is injured on the job, the primary debate tends to center on how severe the injury is, whether they can get back to work and when, what abilities they will have when they do return and what type of treatment they will receive. Workplace intentional torts are not anywhere close to the same.

People need to be protected in these situations and part of that is realizing that it is entirely possible that the employer injured the worker on purpose. These cases are complex and meeting the burden of proof to show what the injured person and their family say is true can be hard. Knowing how to proceed in these cases requires determination and a full grasp of the law for workplace intentional torts.