The law is clear that if you are injured on the job, you generally cannot bring a negligence claim based upon the actions of your employer or one of your co-employees. Instead, your remedy against your employer is limited to a Louisiana workers’ compensation claim, which pays for a portion of your lost wages, your medical bills, and vocational rehabilitation expenses. While there are some exceptions to this rule (for example, Jones Act seaman and railroad workers can sue their employers), these instances are limited.
However, there is one thing that is clear under Louisiana law: you can bring a claim against your employer for an intentional tort.
What Is An Intentional Tort?
A negligence claim is based upon the idea that somebody failed to take the steps necessary to protect another from harm, whether that was an omission or an act of carelessness. The best example of a negligence claim is an auto accident where a driver is not paying attention to the road and rear-ends another vehicle.
On the other hand, an intentional tort is where somebody actually intends to harm somebody else. Intent is defined as: (1) consciously desiring the physical result of an act, whatever the likelihood of that result happening from the conduct; or (2) knowing that the result is substantially certain to follow from particular conduct, whatever the desire may be as to that result.
An example of an intentional tort on the job is where one employee attacks another employee. If an employee were to punch a co-employee, he or she would have committed the intentional tort of battery.
Workers’ Compensation and Intentional Tort Claims
The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act (LA Rev Stat § 23:1032) provides as follows:
B. Nothing in this Chapter shall affect the liability of the employer, or any officer, director, stockholder, partner, or employee of such employer or principal to a fine or penalty under any other statute or the liability, civil or criminal, resulting from an intentional act.
So, if your employer consciously desires that you be injured or is substantially certain that you will be injured, you can bring a claim against them.
Importantly, this means that your claims will not be limited to a portion of your lost wages and your medical bills. You can also seek to recover general damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. You can seek your full past and future lost wages. These additional items of recoverable damage ultimately create a significantly larger claim.
This exception is why the workers who were injured in the Williams Olefins explosion in Geismar, Louisiana were able to recover against their employer. Had the plaintiffs not been able to show that it was “substantially certain” that injury would occur, they likely would have been limited to a Louisiana workers’ compensation claim.
Call a Louisiana Work Injury Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured on the job, call The Mahone Firm today at (504) 564-7342 to discuss your potential claim with a work injury lawyer. The Mahone Firm also accepts claims involving industrial workers, maritime workers and offshore workers who have been injured on the job.