Can an Employer Be Held Liable for Intentional Acts?
All employers have a duty to make the workplace safe. But as we all know, accidents happen. And when they do, workers’ compensation provides an injured employee with compensation for his/her injuries.
That is the purpose of workers’ compensation. These statutory laws exist to give injured employees a source for financial recovery without having to prove an employer’s negligence. Under the worker’s compensation system, it does not matter whether the employer did or failed to do something. An injured employee does not have to prove that the employer was negligent. He can recover compensation regardless. In exchange, however, the injured worker gives up any right to sue his employer.
In Louisiana, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries or work-related diseases or illnesses.
But what happens if an employee’s injury is result of an intentional act or tort? Then what?
Briefly, “negligence” in this context refers to a situation where someone who has a duty (for example, to keep the workplace safe) fails to take the steps necessary to carry out that duty (i.e., “breaches” his duty) and as a result, someone else is harmed. Negligence is generally an omission or an act of carelessness.
An intentional tort, on the other hand, is pretty much what it says. It is wheresomebody actually intends to harm somebody else. This can be either the conscious, direct intent to harm another, or a knowing that the result of certain conduct is substantially certain to produce harm to another. For example, an intentional tort on the job could be where one worker attacks another.
The Exception To the Rule
Because workers’ compensation is an injured employee’s exclusive remedy, it means you cannot sue your employer to recover money damages. Unless, of course, your case comes within the exception to the rule. That exception is if the employer’s act was intentional.
If your case is one where your employer consciously desired to injure you, you could bring a claim against him. Or, if you can prove that your employer did or failed to do something and knew that it was substantially certain that you will be injured as a result, you may be able to bring a claim against them.
While rare, there have been cases, such as in the Williams Olefins explosion in Geismar, Louisiana, where injured workers were able to sue their employer based on intentional tort.
Accidents Happen. And When They Do, We Are Here for You.
If you were involved in a workplace accident, contact us ToDay. We are experienced workers’ compensation attorneys. We offer FREE consultations. We haveoffices in Baton Rouge, and we serve Baker, Denham, Gonzales, Port Allen, Prairieville, New Orleans, and Zachary. Call (225) 200-0000 ToDay to schedule your free consultation or email us.