Is Suing My Employer An Option in Nevada?
While it may seem logical that an employee should be able to sue an employer for an injury caused as a direct result of the performance of job duties, this is not the case. Nevada laws provide alternate remedies for injured employees through workers compensation benefits. Additionally, the injured employee may file a complaint with other agencies regarding work conditions if necessary. Although even cases of gross negligence and unsafe work conditions are not grounds for suing an employment provider, there are specific instances when an employee may bring legal suit against the employing entity.
Before Workers Compensation Laws in Nevada
In the past, if a worker was injured on the job in the performance of job duties, the injured worker had to individually sue the employment provider through a personal injury lawsuit. When suing the employer, the employee had to prove that the injury was directly caused by the employing entity. In the lawsuit, the employee had to state the amount of money to be compensated in the form of medical expenses, lost wages, injury compensation, and every other injury-related expense. Not only was the burden of proof placed on the injured worker, but also court costs, attorney fees, and all other expenses had to be paid by the employee. These costs could only be reimbursed if these expenses were a part of the lawsuit and the employee actually won the case. While proving fault and winning the case were often difficult, there was no guarantee that the injured employee would receive any awarded payments if the case were won.
After Workers Compensation (WC) Laws were enacted in Nevada
In order to help those who are injured on the job as a part of the performance of their work duties, regulations for WC were put in place to be sure that injured employees would receive proper medical care, financial compensation for any lost wages during approved time off work due to the injury, compensation for permanent injuries, and job re-training in case of any permanent disability from the injury. Employment providers who hire 50 or more employees must purchase WC insurance to offer protection to employees. In return for this protection to employees, suing an employing entity for any occupational injury or illness and expecting to win is no longer an option to injured workers.
Exclusive Remedy Defense for Employers
If an employee tries to sue an employment provider for a work-related injury or illness through a personal injury lawsuit, the case is most likely to be dismissed. By Nevada laws, an injured employee has the “exclusive remedy” of turning to workers compensation for medical treatments, financial compensation for lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation. Suing an employer will only result in such employment provider bringing up the exclusive remedy defense according to provision 616A.020 in the Nevada Revised Statutes. The same regulations that protect employees who obtain injuries on the job also protect employment providers from the possibility of lawsuits for such occupational injury or illness.
Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Act
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was created in 1970 requires that employment providers create and maintain safe and healthful work conditions to employees. While an employee may not be able to sue his or her employment provider for workplace injuries caused by gross negligence or the lack of safe working conditions, other options are available to help remedy the situation. Any unsafe or hazardous workplace conditions should be reported to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration also referred to as OSHA. An employee may file an anonymous complaint. An inspector from OSHA may inspect the work facility to determine if unsafe or hazardous conditions are present. The employment provider may be fined and forced to take corrective action to prevent the risk of further injuries to employees. However, while the injured worker will not receive any of the fines that are assessed to the employing entity, such action will help to reduce the risk of further injuries to the worker or others employed through the company.
Nevada Supreme Court Exceptions that Allow for Worker to Sue Employer
While workers compensation laws may prevent an employee from suing an employment provider for negligence or hazardous work conditions, there are some exceptions. Several different case ruling by the state Supreme Court allow additional legal remedies through lawsuits against an employment provider by an injured employee. If an employee is fired simply for filing a WC claim, this is ground for a legitimate lawsuit. An employee may also bring suit against an employing entity if the employee is fired for refusing to perform job duties in hazardous or unsafe working conditions. If the employment provider directly injures the worker through assault and battery, the employee has the option to file a lawsuit. Additionally, if the employment provider demotes the employee to a lesser position due to the work-related illness or injury, the employee may bring suit.
Third Party Lawsuits
Although a lawsuit may not be brought against an employment provider for injuries sustained in the performance of job duties, there are other times when lawsuits may be applicable if the injury was caused by another person or entity that is not the employing entity or a co-worker. This can result in the employee being able to bring a personal injury lawsuit, or a third party lawsuit, against that person or entity. However, there are some complexities involved in determining who is and who is not a co-worker for these cases. This can be tricky in areas involving statutory employees and other third parties. A statutory employee is someone who is typically self-employed but may be considered an employee for tax purposes. Different circumstances or events may prevent bringing suit against such individuals. If an injured employee wishes to use a third party lawsuit for injuries sustained on the job, it is best to obtain legal representation and assistance in order to maximize the chances of receiving an award in such a case.
Those who need assistance for personal injury cases and cases involving workplace illness or injury may benefit from obtaining legal representation or consultation in these matters. The qualified attorneys at the Morris/Anderson Law Firm are experienced with all aspects of workers compensation law in Nevada. If you think you have the potential makings of a lawsuit, you may wish to obtain more information from the Morris/Anderson Law Firm before proceeding with your case.Go to the Next Article