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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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