You Cannot Sue Your Employer for a Work Injury in Washington—Unless it Was Caused Intentionally
May 26, 2022 – Matt Albrecht
Workers’ compensation insurance is generally the sole legal remedy that an injured employee has against their own employer. If you were hurt on the job in Washington State, you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit directly against your own employer. Instead, you must pursue a workers’ comp claim to get your benefits.
However, there is an important exception in the Washington State workers’ compensation law. An injured worker can file a personal injury lawsuit directly against their own employer if they were intentionally injured by that employer. In this article, our Spokane workplace injury lawyer provides a guide to intentional injury claims in Washington.
Washington State Law: A Right to File a Lawsuit Against an Employer for Intentional Injury
Under Washington State law (RCW 51.24.020), an injured worker can file a personal injury lawsuit directly against their own employer if they were harmed due to the deliberate intention of their employer. It is an important exception to Washington’s general workers’ comp law which holds that a no-fault workers’ compensation claim is the exclusive remedy that a worker has against their own company.
The primary advantage of pursuing a personal injury claim for an intentional injury in the workplace is that you may be able to recover additional financial compensation. If you can prove that your employer is at-fault for intentionally causing your injury, you have the right to hold them legally liable for the full extent of your losses. Compensation may be available for non-economic damages, including for pain and suffering.
A Limited Right: Negligence is Not the Same as an Intentional Act
It is important to emphasize that (RCW 51.24.020 provides a limited right in Washington State. To hold an employer liable for an intentional tort, you must prove that your workplace was deliberately caused. To be clear, a negligent act is not sufficient to prove liability in this type of case. Even if your employer engaged in a careless or reckless manner, that is not enough to prove that they intentionally caused your injury. You must establish a deliberate act.
You Can and Should Still File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
RCW 51.24.020 does not provide an exclusive remedy to workers harmed intentionally by their own employer. You still retain the legal right to file a workers’ comp claim even if your employer deliberately caused your injury. You should always file for no-fault workers’ comp benefits after suffering an on-the-job injury.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Work Injury Attorney in Spokane
At Albrecht Law PLLC, our Spokane workplace injury lawyers are devoted to protecting the rights of injured victims—not employers or insurance companies. If you have any questions about filing an intentional injury claim against an employer, we are here to help. Contact us today to arrange your free, no commitment case assessment. From our Spokane law office, we provide work injury guidance and support throughout Eastern Washington.
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