Injured Workers Cannot Sue Their Employer in Court
As part of the compromise between business and labor, the North Carolina workers’ compensation law provides that the injured employee may not sue his employer in court nor is the injured worker entitled to a trial by jury.
In a court of law, the injured party is entitled to a full recovery for their injuries. This recovery would include an amount for pain and suffering and all other elements of actual damage suffered by an innocent victim. The injured worker does not have this right.
In a NC workers’ comp claim, which can only be made through the North Carolina Industrial Commission, benefits are strictly limited to the elements of damage discussed in Brent Adams' book How to Get Top Dollars for Your Workers' Compensation Claim.
There is a very narrow exception to this rule, which only arises when the employer requires the employee to do work that is so dangerous that it is substantially certain in advance to cause the employee serious injury or death. However, the application of this exception is very rare.
This same rule prohibits all suits against co-employees for conduct resulting in an on the job injury. The exclusive remedy is through the workers’ compensation law.
The trade-off for the injured worker is that he or she is not required to show that someone else was at fault in causing the injury. Negligence does not have to be established. The worker can recover full workers’ compensation benefits even if they were exclusively at fault in causing the injury.