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Can I Sue My Employer for an Injury on the Job in Ohio?

Man helping an injured lady in a warehouse. Can i sue my employer for an injury on the job

Wondering, “Can I sue my employer for an injury on the job?” In Ohio, it’s possible to sue an employer for a work-related injury outside a workers’ comp claim if the employer engaged in intentional or reckless conduct. However, these circumstances are rare, and it’s important to determine whether the employer is directly liable before suing an employer.

The Ohio Workers’ Compensation System

In the event of a work injury that occurs in the scope of an employee’s job, the Ohio workers’ compensation system enables injured workers to file a claim against the employer’s workers’ comp insurance company.

Workers’ compensation provides protections for employees and employers, with this insurance protecting employers from lawsuits due to work accidents while covering all medical costs and lost income for injury victims.

If you want to learn more about how to file a claim following a work-related incident, you can complete an Ohio workers’ compensation claim checklist to ensure you adequately prepare your claim.

What Benefits Are Provided by Workers’ Compensation in Ohio?

Ohio’s workers’ comp provides employees with benefits if they sustain injuries or develop illnesses on the job. These benefits include:

  • Medical expenses, including immediate, ongoing, and future care, along with rehabilitation and therapy needed to recover from injuries.
  • Partial or total disability, which covers a percentage of a worker’s income while unable to work, either temporarily or permanently, because of his or her injuries.
  • Death benefits that cover burial expenses and other costs related to a worker’s death after sustaining fatal work-related injuries. These benefits would go to the victim’s family.

These benefits can also be available under workers’ comp for remote workers, as long as the employee is working part- or full-time for an employer with workers’ comp insurance. However, it can be more challenging to prove work-related injuries while working remotely if there are insufficient witnesses to the incident.

How Quickly Do You Need to Report Your Injury to Your Employer?

Employees in Ohio have a limited amount of time to file a workers’ comp insurance claim against an employer, but there isn’t a deadline for reporting work injuries to employers in this state. Specifically, you have one year from the time of your injury or discovery of injury to file a claim in accordance with Ohio’s statute of limitations.

While there isn’t a deadline for reporting injuries, and one year may seem like a long time to build a case, it’s best to report your injuries as soon as possible and begin building a claim shortly after a work accident.

Reporting and filing early comes with a few benefits, including:

  • A better chance of proving that your injuries were work-related based on the closer timing between the report and the accident that led to it.
  • More detailed documentation, including witness details and statements, along with details about injuries along with how and when they developed.
  • The ability to begin seeking compensation to cover medical expenses and lost income while recovering, reducing the need to rely on long-term financial coverage.

What Is the Exclusive Remedy Rule?

Typically, according to the exclusive remedy rule in Ohio, workers are unable to file direct lawsuits against employers. However, this isn’t always the case.

According to Ohio law, injured workers have the ability to file lawsuits against employers for something called “intentional torts.” The law defines these torts as specific acts involving employers or others who deliberately cause harm to victims with the intent to cause injury, illness, or death.

These are rare cases, with most workers’ comp claims not involving intentional torts of any kind. On the other hand, it is possible for employers or other entities to be liable for intentional torts.

Under Which Circumstances Can Employers’ Conduct Be Considered Intentional or Reckless?

If intentional torts are behind a work-related accident and injuries or illnesses, the employee must prove that this was the case.

Ohio’s laws specifically designate two situations when it’s likely that an employer, coworker, or someone else intended to cause injury to someone else. These situations include the following:

  1. When someone intentionally removes an equipment safety guard.
  2. When someone intentionally misrepresents the contents and danger of a hazardous or toxic substance.

These situations fall under a rebuttal presumption that suggests an injury or illness developed because of one of the aforementioned actions. While it may be possible for the employee to prove intentional torts, employers have the ability to rebut this presumption and defend themselves in these cases with their own evidence.

The rarity of these cases make it important to find a workers’ comp lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases if you wish to file a third-party lawsuit against an employer.

How to Prove an Employer’s Intentional or Reckless Conduct

It’s often difficult to prove intentional torts or reckless conduct in workers’ comp cases, but it is possible.

For instance, if an employer removed a safety barrier—which is the only type of “equipment safety guard” that the rebuttal presumption lists—then evidence such as photographs and video footage of the area with the missing guard may help prove that the employer is liable for the accident.

An employer could also instruct someone to use a highly toxic substance improperly and with inadequate protection, unbeknownst to the employee, in which case the employee might be able to obtain proof that the employer understood the hazard and only handled the material using proper protective gear.

When to File a Third-Party Liability Claim

If you believe that your employer or another entity is liable for your injuries, you may be able to file a third-party liability claim in addition to a workers’ comp claim.

You may benefit from this by recovering compensation for non-economic damages you sustained in a work-related incident, which a workers’ comp claim won’t cover. While workers’ compensation only covers economic damages, a third-party claim could pay out for pain and suffering, trauma, and other personal losses experienced.

Entities Other Than Employers Who Can Be Held Liable

You could have a viable third-party claim if someone other than your employer is responsible for a work-related injury or illness. These parties could include different a wide range of people and entities.

For instance, a construction accident could take place because of the negligence of a construction equipment manufacturer that produced faulty machinery. Architects, meanwhile, could be at fault for design defects.

Civilians could also be liable in cases such as car accidents that occur while driving from one job site to another.

Contractors and subcontractors, mechanics, and other parties could be subject to a third-party liability claim in the event of a work accident.

How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help You if You Are Injured on the Job

If you sustain injuries in the workplace, you may be able to recover compensation through a workers’ comp claim and a third-party liability claim, depending on the circumstances. Remember, these situations are rare and only apply if an employer deliberately causes an injury or illness, or if another party is liable for a work-related condition.

To determine what options are available to you, get in touch with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Ohio who can discuss a potential case. He or she can meet with you in an initial consultation to assess your case and potentially take it on. If the attorney decides to represent you, he or she can help navigate your workers’ comp claim and figure out whether intentional torts or third-party liability is behind your case.

Not only can an attorney help you better understand what to expect during a workers’ comp and third-party claim, but he or she can also help you identify all damages and seek total compensation for your injuries or illness. In turn, you can increase your chances of succeeding with a case and getting the compensation you deserve.

Additionally, an attorney can help identify any liable parties who may be responsible for your injuries, whether through malicious intent or negligence. As a result, you may have grounds for a third-party claim or suit and be able to recover compensation for non-economic damages in addition to economic damages recovered in a workers’ comp claim.


Jay A. Bolotin is a partner at the injury law firm of Young, Reverman & Bolotin. Serving the people of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, Jay dedicates his career to helping clients in the tri-state area obtain financial compensation after suffering serious injuries. He focuses his practice on cases involving car accidents, trucking accidents, dog bites and animal attacks, and other types of personal injury incidents.

Years of Experience: More than 25 years
Registration Status:: Active
Bar Admissions: Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Cincinati Bar Association