General Question

RocketSquid's avatar

Would there be any repercussions for suing an employer?

Asked by RocketSquid (3475points) February 18th, 2010

A friend of mine slipped on some ice outside his workplace, doing some damage to his knee. We’re not sure how extensive the damage is yet, but he does need physical therapy for about two weeks and can’t bend his leg. Long story short, whether or not the damage is permanent is still being determined.

He’s meeting with a lawyer because he’s thinking about suing the company. I personally don’t know if this is a good idea, especially long term. I especially think this might be bad if there’s no long term damage.

If he does sue his company, is there anything he could expect in the future, be it with this one or trying to find another job in the future?

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24 Answers

davidbetterman's avatar

You mean other than losing the job? Doesn’t worker’s comp cover this?

Cruiser's avatar

His employer will not appreciate a lawsuit and may find a way to terminate that employee. I would pursue workmans comp or ask for a meeting with the HR director or even the owner to discuss therapy needs or special compensation for their trouble pain and suffering before getting a lawyer involved.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

So he hurt himself and needs physical therapy. Let’s stipulate that this was true, and that the accident is 100% the responsibility of the employer.

Assuming that to all be true, has he even spoken to his employer about anything they can or would be willing to do to help him recover, including compensatory time off and paying for the PT, etc.? Or does he just see this as a good way to take off the rest of the winter at full pay?

If he hasn’t even spoken to the employer, and just slaps them with a lawsuit, then they will automatically (and rightly) assume the latter, and find a way to get rid of him. “Slip and fall” lawsuits are the bane of many employers. It’s not that they’re frivolous or fraudulent—most of them probably are not—but they’re easy to prosecute, a gold mine for some attorneys, and don’t really fix many problems. I would look with utter disdain on the person who would run to an attorney before even talking to the employer.

Val123's avatar

Does he have insurance? Does he always try to find other people to blame for his accidents?

robmandu's avatar

Worker’s compensation is what you want by default. It varies from state to state, so look up what applies to you (or your friend) locally.

If you feel there is excessive negligence by the employer at play and the physical damage is extensive and long-term, you might consider suing. But kiss the job good-bye when you do.

pear_martini's avatar

You will most likely get canned.

augustlan's avatar

Others are right about Workers Comp. That’s what your friend should be looking into.

Val123's avatar

Plus you won’t be able to use them as a reference in further jobs. Also, if a background check is run on him by future potential employers, that lawsuit would probably show up. Not good.

davidbetterman's avatar

Actually, worker’s comp is a joke. Your friend’s best bet is to sue the pants off the employer. Especially if the accident is his fault. I believe that an employee can still sue the employer despite the worker’s comp rules and regs. these differ from state to state, so if you really want some accurate responses, you will tell what state this occurred in.

dpworkin's avatar

Your friend has already disqualified himself from a lawsuit by injuring himself on company time. He is limited by a cap to Workman’s Comp, which is tilted way in favor of the employer. Thank God the Republicans are continuing to protect employers and insurance companies and banks and Big Pharma and Big Agro from the unfairness of being responsible for their actions.

lilikoi's avatar

I agree with everyone else here who said look into worker’s comp and approach the employer tactfully. It doesn’t hurt to consult with a lawyer first to know your legal position. Now I am no lawyer, but I believe what they’d be looking to prove is negligence (was there a sign posted warning the ice is slippery? does his employer own the property that he slipped on?). It may very well be that the employer had a sign posted and then his case would be kaput anyway. You want to avoid lawsuits if possible – it is less expensive for everyone involved that way.

lilikoi's avatar

@dpworkin I never knew this! Although I’ve had binding arbitration agreements imposed on me before, but that’s different right? I guess it is possible that the guy injured himself before clocking in for the day, or after though right since it happened outside of the building?

Cruiser's avatar

Just for the record here, our company would rather and has paid for all medical expenses, loss of wages etc. for all injuries no matter how self inflicted or otherwise out of the owners pocket. The added expense of increased insurance premiums alone are incentive enough to do so. Lawyers and legal pushes only add to the cost and owners are aware of this and most would rather help that employee off the record than to burden the rest of the company with increased insurance premiums.

btw @dpworkin those caps are there to protect both the employer and employee against frivolous and attack from greedy lawyers over exactly these kind of slips on the ice in front of businesses. These types of Tort reform is our last hope of bringing a meaningful health care reform bill to the table.

dpworkin's avatar

@Cruiser Not surprisingly, we disagree. The CBO estimates all tort issues (including morally and legally justified torts which would fit the caps) to comprise about 2% of all health care costs.

YARNLADY's avatar

There are many prospective employers who ask on their application if you have ever sued a former employer, and if the answer is yes, or you are caught lying, you will not have a job.

evandad's avatar

The lawyer will advise you to sue because he will benefit from it. It sounds like the injury isn’t a major one. No broken bones, just a few weeks of physical therapy. As earlier stated workers comp will cover you until he is able to work full time again. You are probably the best judge of the situation. If you think the damage is minor advise him to take the comp, heal up and get back to work.

john65pennington's avatar

If he sues his company, they will settle out of court with him. but, there are conditions that he will have to agree to. like being terminated, not mentioning the money amount of the settlement to anyone, the company not admitting fault, company agreeing to future medical for your friend. he can expect all of the above. i know this from personal experience while working a part time job.

Cruiser's avatar

@dpworkin That 2% would save me $280.00 per year on my HC premium and then multiply that by the number of privately insured people and we are talking quite a bit of money here…certainly an amount worth pursuing IMO.

dpworkin's avatar

@Cruiser. It world, except the greater percentage of that 2% would continue to be protected under the caps, making the difference negligible. It reminds me of Reagan’s “Welfare Queen.” You find all the “Welfare Queens” and clean them out of the system, and you have bought about 20 minutes worth of making the legitimate system run.

Cruiser's avatar

@dpworkin I am not schooled enough on this matter to further this discussion. I responded yesterday out of exasperation. I have watched my insurance premiums triple in the 14 years at this company…last year we switched ins. companies and applied for a $3,500 deductible (per insured household member so I face $10,500 a year in deductibles on top of all the copays and premiums I pay) in as desperate attempt to control the costs of this benefit for the employees here. Also yesterday I got our renewal in the mail and my premium alone went up $2,600 per year!! WTH!!

First off…I am not trying to begrudge anyone from rightfully suing for a medical mistake. The way I see it, so much could be accomplished simply by changing the liability aspect of initiating the lawsuit. Greedy lawyers can saddle up to the trough knowing most insurance companies will roll over and settle to avoid costly lengthy trials and this element alone is costing the insurance companies staggering amounts of money which I have to cover through these insane premiums. Medicare/Medicade fraud is another sore subject…so help me understand why these seemingly obvious solutions to seemingly obvious problems are still rampant in this industry? I am beyond frustrated here dp! Tell me please aside from Torte reform how is this industry going to be able to provide health care coverage at reasonable rates?

dpworkin's avatar

A Single Payer system that eliminates the health insurance companies, which are just dead weight, will reduce the budget deficit and result in a much higher level of care for everyone. Currently the USA is number 37 in the World in health care, and is the only developed country without universal health care for its inhabitants, all due to the greed of the health insurance companies which have inflated your premium in order to increase their profits.

thriftymaid's avatar

Future employers will not be thrilled.

RocketSquid's avatar

He’s been a little hard to get in touch of lately, but the good news is from what I hear he may actually go after the owner of the building, not his employer (who rents the space). I still think he’s reaching a bit, but I guess I’ll hear what his lawyer recommended today.

Val123's avatar

@RocketSquid Why is your friend so bound and determined to sue somebody? Accidents happen.

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