All too often I hear from client’s “I don’t want to sue my employer… I love where I work!” Occasionally, I will also hear, “I hate my employer… this is all their fault, can I sue them?” My response to both of these clients is the same. In Nevada, an injured worker can not sue their employer for injuries that occurred in the course and scope of their employment. The injured workers’ remedy is to file a claim for workers’ compensation through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy.
Workers’ Compensation is an Exclusive Remedy.
In most states, including Nevada, a workers’ compensation claim is an injured workers’ only remedy for injuries that occurred at work. This means you cannot sue your employer for negligence, even if a co-worker pulled the ladder out from under you or if your employer had you using old busted tools. It is a no fault system. Now, this is not to say that one can go and smash his hand with a hammer in an attempt to get a settlement. The injury must still be unforeseen, sudden, and tangible. However, the injured worker will not need to show that some duty of care was breached or that the injury was caused by someone else.
The negative side effects of an inability to sue an employer for negligence include no punitive damages and no recovery for pain and suffering. A workers’ compensation claim is an insurance claim for medical and monetary benefits for injuries that occurred at work. The purpose of workers’ compensation insurance is to have medical treatment paid for, to receive compensation for any time missed from work, and to receive some compensation for any permanent impairment that may affect future employment.
A positive side effect includes the ability for employers and injured workers to rest easy knowing that this shouldn’t create animosity in the workplace. Although, the reality of it is filing a claim can occasionally cause animosity, it is important for both sides to remember that this is a claim for insurance benefits from the insurance company.
In Nevada, every employer with one or more employees is required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance not only protects an injured worker, but their employers as well.