Can I Sue for My Work Injury While I Am Receiving Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a system designed to protect victims of work-related injuries through their recovery. The benefits generally cover medical bills and part of their lost wages. In Missouri, most employers are required by law to carry workers’ comp insurance, but some of them (like companies with less than five employees or those who work with independent contractors) are not obligated to be covered.

Many injured workers ask us if they can sue their employer and file for workers’ compensation at the same time.

It’s important to understand that, filing a claim for workers’ compensation generally eliminates your right to file a civil lawsuit against your employer, so you will have to choose between the two.

Choosing Workers’ Compensation

The disadvantage of workers’ compensation, compared to a lawsuit, is that you can only get your medical expenses and lost wages covered, but not other damages, such as pain and suffering. Depending on your case, you might prefer to file a lawsuit instead, if possible.

When to File a Lawsuit

In a workers’ comp claim, you will generally be covered even if the accident leading to the injuries was your fault. However, fault plays a central role in personal injury claims.

When You Can Do Both

You may be able to sue a third-party while on workers’ comp if, for example, the negligence of a co-worker, business partner, distributor, doctor, or inspector put you in danger and affected your health.

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