I got hurt on the job, can I sue my employer? This is a question that Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner is asked almost every day. The short answer is “no”. You cannot sue your employer because you were hurt on the job. However, there are some exceptions.
The State of Hawaii has enacted Workers Compensation Law. The purpose of the law is to provide wage loss compensation and medical care to those employees who suffer a work-related injury. The law requires the employer to provide these benefits to the injured employee. The issue of “fault” does not become a consideration. As long as the employee was not intoxicated or purposely trying to cause harm to themselves, the benefits will be provided. The compensation and benefits available to the injured employee include medical, wage loss, vocational rehabilitation, permanent partial disability payment, permanent total disability payment, disfigurement payment and payment due to death.
The trade-off to this is that under the law, the injured employee is prohibited from filing a civil action (lawsuit) against the employer for work-related injuries or illnesses.
Okay, so what are the exceptions that would allow you to have a civil action claim for a work injury? One of the main exceptions would be if you were injured on the job and the circumstances were that someone other than your employer or another co-employee acting in the course of their employment, caused your injury. Another possible exception may apply if your employer or co-employee engaged in willful, wanton and reckless misconduct that resulted in your injury.
If you are hurt on the job, you should immediately report the injury to your supervisor/employer. Your employer should then file a WC-1 form with the Hawaii Disability Compensation Division. This will document your claim. If you have questions about your legal rights or concerns about whether your injury claim is being properly handled, give Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner a call at 808-537-2525. We will be happy to discuss your case and advise you.