Typically when you are hurt while you are at work, your claims against your employer is limited to compensation under the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act. However, there are some exceptions that our clients should be aware of that could be the difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars or recovery, or more.
What is the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act?
The Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act is the Louisiana law that governs injuries that occur to employees as well as statutory employees that are injured at work. Put simply, if you are hurt in New Orleans, Metairie or any other place in Louisiana while you are working, under Louisiana law, in most cases, workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy that an employee may assert against his employer or fellow employees for work-related injury, unless he was the victim of an intentional act. This means that, in most scenarios, you cannot sue your employer for damages like pain and suffering when you are hurt on the job. While you do not have to prove fault against your employer in these cases, your damages and remedies are often limited to indemnity benefits, and medical benefits, as well as out of pocket expenses such as mileage to your doctor's appointments.
We have written about workers' compensation laws and your ability to sue a third party if you are injured at work in these posts:
Does my Employer have to Pay for an Intentional Act?
There is another exception to the workers' compensation regime, however, and that is when you can show that the employer's action was intentional. Meaning, your boss can't punch you in the face and then claim protections of workers' compensation! While this is an extreme example that is clearly an intentional act, we often have to do a complicated legal analysis to determine whether your employer's actions are so grossly negligent that they rise to the level of intentional.
In Bazley v. Tortorich, 197 So.2d 475 (La. 1981), the Louisiana Supreme Court explained how an intentional act would be defined in these instances. It requires the actor to either (1) consciously desire the physical result of his act, whatever the likelihood of that result happening from his conduct; or (2) know that the result is substantially certain to follow from his conduct, whatever his desire may be as to that result.
Sometimes we are able to evidence this by deposition testimony or by discovery which may show that an employee had a history of complaints regarding a safety concern such that the employer's failure to fix it constituted an intentional act. As one can imagine, this is a complicated analysis that requires legal specialty and intimate familiarity with the law.
Even if you are not sure if your employer has acted intentionally to cause you injury, let us take a look at your case. We handle New Orleans work accident claims, Metairie work accident claims, and work accident claims throughout Louisiana. We give free consultations on these matters and do not take a fee at all if we do not take your case.