Unsafe Working Conditions

Personal Injury Lawyer

Employees have the right to protect themselves from unsafe working conditions, and employers have a responsibility to maintain a safe working environment. If you are injured as a result of unsafe conditions at work, it introduces a complicated legal situation. You likely have many questions if you are in this situation.

Can You Sue Your Employer Over Unsafe Working Conditions?

Generally speaking, if you collect workers’ compensation, you automatically waive the right to sue your employer. However, unsafe working conditions are typically an exception to the rule. If you can demonstrate negligence or willful misconduct on the part of your employer, you can usually file a personal injury lawsuit after being hurt due to unsafe working conditions. However, this might depend on the laws of your state.

What Is Workers’ Compensation Subrogation?

A personal injury lawsuit takes a long time to resolve. In the interim, you may collect workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you ultimately win your case and collect damages, you may need to pay back the workers’ compensation you have already collected. This is known as subrogation, which is a legal term for reimbursement.

Don’t let concern over paying back workers’ compensation prevent you from filing a lawsuit over unsafe working conditions if you have a valid case. Your award is likely to be significantly more than you would collect from workers’ compensation anyway, and if you lose, you can go on collecting work comp.

Can You Refuse To Work Under Unsafe Conditions?

There is a regulation called the Imminent Threat to Life rule that allows you to refuse to work if a reasonable person would determine that the conditions are immediately life threatening. The law protects you and supports your decision not to work in such as situation, but the rule only applies as long as the imminent threat persists.

You may be tempted to quit your job if exposed to unsafe working conditions that do not pose an imminent threat to life. If you do so, however, you may forfeit your right to file a complaint against your employer. From a legal point of view, it is best for you to stay in your position at the company and take whatever reasonable steps you can to protect yourself. Your employer cannot legally retaliate against you for reporting unsafe working conditions, but refusing to work in the absence of an imminent threat to life could be valid grounds for dismissal.