Employers’ Willful Misconduct
The last thing anyone expects is to suffer a workplace injury due to an employers’ intentional misconduct. You show up each day to work, you do your job as best you can, and you’d hope—and expect—that your employer has your best interests at heart. However, as shocking as it may seem, worker injuries stemming from an employer’s willful misconduct are not unheard of. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our dedicated team of North Carolina injury lawyers proudly represent injured employees in workers’ compensation and personal injury claims. We can help you understand your options, determine which best fits your case, and aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve.Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina
The North Carolina workers’ compensation laws create a no-fault system that allows injured employees to recover limited benefits for their injuries after being injured at work. Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, it serves to benefit both employers and employees. From the employer’s perspective, workers’ compensation laws prevent injured employees from pursuing much more expensive personal injury claims. This is referred to as the “exclusivity provision,” meaning, in most cases, a workers’ compensation claim is an injured worker’s exclusive remedy against their employer. And from the employee’s perspective, the workers’ comp system allows for a quicker, easier resolution of their claim.How Employers’ Willful Misconduct Affects a Workers’ Compensation Claim
As a general rule, workers’ compensation laws apply to workplace injuries resulting from negligence—either the injured worker’s negligence or their employer’s negligence. However, different rules apply when an employee’s injuries are the result of an employer’s willful misconduct. In these cases, an injured worker can file a workers’ compensation claim as well as a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.
The Supreme Court of North Carolina has held that “when an employer intentionally engages in misconduct knowing it is substantially certain to cause serious injury or death to employees,” an injured worker can pursue a personal injury claim against their employer. These claims are sometimes referred to as “Woodson claims,” named after the North Carolina Supreme Court case that set out the framework for bringing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against an employer.
Of course, the bar is quite high to prove that an employer was substantially certain their actions would lead to injury or death. However, state courts have upheld awards based on this principle. For example, in a 2013 case, the court held that an employer who asked a worker to perform dangerous electrical work he had not been trained to do could be named in a wrongful death claim by the deceased worker’s spouse.
It is important to remember that an employer doesn’t necessarily need to intend to cause injury to bring this type of claim. Instead workers must prove an employer engaged in conduct that was substantially certain to result in injury. While these cases are difficult to prove, a skilled North Carolina workers’ compensation and personal injury attorney can assist workers and their families in understanding their rights and pursuing them to the maximum extent the law allows.Have You Been Injured in a North Carolina Workplace Accident?
If you or a loved one was recently injured in a workplace accident, and you believe that an employer’s willful misconduct was the cause of the accident, reach out to the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, for immediate assistance. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we have decades of hands-on experience working with injured workers and their families, helping them obtain the benefits they deserve. We can help you evaluate all your options and effectively pursue the one that makes the most sense for you. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord workers’ compensation lawyers at 704-918-4747. We take all workers’ compensation and personal injury cases on a contingency basis, meaning we will not bill you for our services unless we can connect you with compensation for what you’ve been through.