In some cases, an injured employee may think that their employer is directly responsible for their injury or illness. For the most part, however, this is irrelevant to the legal proceedings of a workers’ compensation claim. An injured worker is eligible to receive full compensation benefits regardless of the cause of the accident or injury. The only cases in which an employee can file an additional claim against their employer is if the injury was a result of serious and willful misconduct, as opposed to negligence. The employer’s actions in these cases must be borderline criminal to be considered more than simple negligence. But, if proven, a serious and willful misconduct claim would entitle the employee to receive twice the compensation benefits. This would include doubling his or her weekly compensation rate, medical expenses, and all other payments.
You are not allowed to sue your employer or coworker under the Workers’ Compensation Act. However, if you believe your injury or illness occurred at the fault of someone else, you have the legal right to recover damages over and above your workers’ compensation benefits. If you win a suit against this third party, you must return the compensation paid to you by the insurer. But, you may keep all of the other money you receive. If you do not recover damages from the third party, the compensation insurer is responsible for its share of your attorney fees.