Can someone have a personal lawsuit in addition to a workers comp suit?

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Can someone have a personal lawsuit in addition to a workers comp suit?

My uncle fell at his job and broke his clavicle, ribs and his rotator cuff. He has had 3 surgeries, and Is not able to work to return to working construction. He does have a workers comp attorney but he wants to know if he is able to have a personal lawsuit against his employer for negligence?

Asked on July 3, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

No, you cannot do both. Worker's comp is an "alternative" remedy to a private lawsuit. It is designed to provide compensation much more quickly than a lawsuit, without having to prove employer fault (i.e. that is, with worker's compensation, you are guaranteed compensation, whereas with a lawsuit, you could sue and lose, getting nothing). However, the tradeoff for those advantages is that if you accept worker's compensation, you give up the right to sue--worker's comp is your only compensation. (And also, you can't get as much--for example, no "pain and suffering"--as you might get in a successful lawsuit). You can sue or you can get worker's compensation: you can't do both.


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