Michigan attorney answers the question “can I sue my employer for negligence in Michigan?” by explaining how workers’ compensation is considered the “exclusive remedy” and potential exceptions to the general rule about being able to file a lawsuit.
Can I sue my employer for negligence in Michigan? This is a tough question with a complicated answer. Here is some general information about workers’ compensation and other potential remedies. Please remember that every situation is different, so it is a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney.
Michigan adopted its first workers’ compensation law in 1912. It was designed as a grand bargain between labor and business. Employees hurt on-the-job are guaranteed benefits regardless of fault. If you try to sue your employer for negligence it is important to note that some employers get protection from civil lawsuits even when they are negligent.
Workers’ compensation is now the exclusive remedy when an employee gets injured on-the-job. It pays 100% of medical bills including mileage, attendant care, and home/vehicle medications. Wage loss benefits equal to 80% of the after-tax value of an employee’s average weekly wage should also be paid. Vocational rehabilitation is available when an employee must be retrained for a new career.
Exception 1: Intentional tort
Intentional tort is an exception to the exclusive remedy provision in the workers’ compensation law. An employee has the right to sue his or her employer for additional damages if there was an intention to hurt. A clear example is when an employer physically assaults his or her employee. Watch out for situations where an employer uses tools, materials, or machinery to intentionally strike or hit. Another situation that would qualify as an intentional tort is when an employer knows that his or her employee will get hurt. It is a difficult burden of proof but not impossible when there is clear evidence.
Exception 2: Employer has no workers’ compensation insurance
Can I sue my employer for negligence when they do not have workers’ compensation insurance? Michigan law requires most employers purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Employers who do not have workers’ compensation insurance are still required to pay medical, wage loss, and vocational rehabilitation benefits. Uninsured employers lose the protection of the exclusive remedy provision and can also be sued for negligence. This opens the door for pain and suffering damages.
Exception 3: Third party claims
Can I sue my employer for negligence if a third party was negligent?Employees hurt on-the-job can bring a lawsuit against a third party who was negligent. It can be difficult to know who is shielded under the workers’ compensation law and who can be sued for negligence. This is especially true on construction sites where general and subcontractors work closely together. It is also common when machines are manufactured or maintained by another party. We recommend speaking with an attorney to make sure no lawsuits are missed.
Exception 4: Wrongful termination
Michigan law prohibits an employer from firing or in any way discriminating against an employee who exercises a right under workers’ compensation. This includes unfair performance reviews, harassment, changes to job duties, demotion, salary reduction, negative references, and unwarranted disciplinary action. A civil lawsuit is permitted against the employer and is totally separate from workers’ compensation payments.
Feel free to contact us if you have more questions surrounding if you can sue your employer for negligence after an accident in Michigan. Our Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.