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Workplace injury versus intentional employer tort

In most cases, a workplace injury is covered by the employer's workers' compensation plan. This means you don't have to prove negligence or fault on the part of the employer to collect benefits. All that is required is that the injury occurred during the scope of work duties.

At the same time, a workers' compensation situation usually bars you from seeking a civil suit against the employer. There are some times when you are injured in the workplace and a civil suit is possible. Those cases are usually related to what is known as an intentional tort on the part of the employer. An intentional tort means the employer meant to cause harm or injury.

Battery or assault is one of the most cut-and-dried examples of intentional tort in the workplace. If your boss or supervisor threatens you physically or commits physical violence upon you that leads to injury, you could have a civil case.

Other types of intentional tort don't always lead to physical injury, but they might be legally actionable. Inflicting emotional damage through terrorizing conduct against an employee can be a reason for a civil lawsuit. Other types of intentional torts include fraud and defamation, theft of property, trespassing on your property or invading your privacy.

In addition to intentional tort, you might be able to seek civil action if you believe your workers' compensation claim has been wrongfully denied or if you think your benefits were terminated too early. Understanding when a work-related injury becomes a matter of civil law can help you determine whether to seek recovery outside of a workers' compensation policy.

Source: FindLaw, "Workers' Compensation: Can I Sue My Employer Instead?," accessed Nov. 18, 2015

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