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Can I sue my employer for a work-related injury?

While caring for a mentally ill patient, the patient unexpectedly snapped and physically assaulted you. You later discovered that your employer had known the patient had a violent history against his peers and other caregivers, but failed to report the danger to you. You believe your employer should pay for your medical expenses, and you should also be able to hold the company accountable for the negligence. Do you and other North Carolina residents have a right to sue an employer instead of accepting workers’ compensation?

In addition to covering your medical bills and lost wages due to a workplace injury, workers’ compensation exists to protect employers from lawsuits, as FindLaw explains. In most cases, you would not be able to sue your employer, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

However, some instances do permit injured employees to sue. This is usually when an employer is believed to have intentionally caused physical or emotional harm or committed a crime against you. The following examples can clarify:

  • Assault or battery – During a disagreement, your manager punched you and broke your nose.
  • Intentional infliction of mental distress – Every chance he gets, your boss taunts you for a physical impairment you have and puts you down in front of others.
  • Fraud – Your employer deliberately kept crucial information from you, which could have prevented an injury had you known about it.
  • False imprisonment – Your boss would not allow you to leave work until you finished an assignment.
  • Conversion – Your employer took your laptop while you were away and claimed it was company property.
  • Trespass – Your boss used your car to run errands without your permission.

It may be possible to sue your employer for the physical and emotional distress you received from an assault they reasonably could have foreseen, but kept that knowledge from you. However, workers’ compensation law is complex, and you may need to seek experienced counsel.

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