Good question. But we need a little more clarification first.
What do you mean by “sue my employer?”
If you mean to press charges or “sue” in the traditional sense, then no – you are not usually allowed to do so, in North Carolina and most other states.
But if you want to know if you can receive compensation for being injured at work, then that answer is: probably yes.
Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina
Basically workers’ compensation works something like this:
- Your employer takes out a workers’ compensation insurance policy
- In return, you give up your right to sue your employer personally
In North Carolina, employers with three or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance by law – although there are some exceptions.
There is not a specific point where you formally give up your right to sue your employer, it is simply implied when you are hired and there is a workers’ compensation policy in place.
And in NC, workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system – meaning it typically doesn’t matter who or what caused the accident.
A quick history of workers’ compensation laws
Before workers’ compensation laws were in place, if you got hurt on the job, you would have to sue your employer for the damages.
As we all know, the court system can be a long, drawn-out process. And if you’re hurt, you probably don’t have time to waste.
So workers’ compensation laws were designed to provide a quicker route for an injured employee to receive medical benefits and payment for wages lost.
The benefit for employers is that they’re no longer personally responsible for damages when you’re hurt on the job.
But like most rules, there are exceptions.
When you CAN sue your employer (in court)
The exception to the “no suing” rule is if your employer acted in a way that may have been intentional.
For example, if your boss got angry and whacked you over the head with a chair, you would probably be able to sue them personally (and it might be time to look for a new job…).
A less clear situation might be if your boss didn’t report something, like a dangerous chemical he/she was storing on site, and it injured you. In this situation, if your employer intentionally hid the dangers of something from you, then you might be able to sue him/her.
Need a NC workers’ compensation attorney?
We have an entire department of lawyers who only work on workers’ compensation cases.
Three of our workers’ comp lawyers are NC Board-Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law, several used to work for workers’ compensation insurance companies and two of our attorneys used to work for the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC – the legal body in charge of enforcing workers’ comp laws).*
*Please note that some attorneys may have multiple designations.