Can I sue someone or city for the injury I sustained while on the job?

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Can I sue someone or city for the injury I sustained while on the job?

Injured on the job 2 years ago. We were subcontracted by the city to help with the cutting down of trees on an island. A city employee asked me to help him move a tree to make room for the city truck that was out there, to park. We lifted tree on

one end, carried it over a few feet, city employee drops his end without warning, tree falls toward the ground, bounces off a fallen tree, onto my foot fracturing my bone. Could work for a few months, went back to work, to much pain, had to have surgery to fuse bones together. More time off. It’s been over a year now. I’m collecting workers’ comp but it’s so small. Is there any extra compensation that I can get?

Asked on February 22, 2017 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You can't sue your employer if you are gettting worker's comp, even a small amount: in choosing to accept worker's comp, you give up your right to sue your employer.
You can't sue the city only because your employer was contracted to them or because you were on their land: those things do not, by themselves, provide a basis to sue. You can only hold someone liable if there was fault, not because your business was hired by them or because you were on land they owned or controlled.
IF the city worker holding the other end was negligent, or unreasonably careless, in dropping the tree, that could give you a basis to sue him--that would be fault. But if he was being reasonably careful and it just got away from him, he was not at fault, and you could not sue. You'd have to be able to show he was being careless. Of course, if he was being careless in carrying the tree, you were probably careless, too, to carry it, and when the person suing is also at fault, his own fault reduces (and can even eliminate) the amount of compensation he could get--the law does not let you profit by your own carelessness.
IF the employee is at fault AND you are not also at fault, you may be able to also sue his employer, the city, because an employer can be liable for its employee's negligence in their course of work.


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