Employers in Tennessee carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees who suffer injuries or contract occupational diseases. This insurance system is a no-fault system that typically protects business owners from facing personal injury lawsuits in a civil court. However, exceptions exist, and certain circumstances might allow you to seek additional damage recovery through the civil justice system.

In most cases, workers pursue recovery of medical expenses and lost wages through the workers’ compensation administrative process rather than through the civil court. If the insurance provider rejects or denies your claim, you could go through an additional appeals process. This will involve a nominated court or a special workers’ compensation appeals board. With no resolve after exhaustion of all legal processes, the civil court system might be your next option.

Alternative legal options

You can benefit from learning about your rights when it comes to workplace injuries because alternative legal options might provide significantly more comprehensive coverage than workers’ compensation. The potential parties who might be defendants in lawsuits include your employer, a manufacturer or another third-party.

Grounds to sue your employer

Grounds for a civil lawsuit might exist if you believe that your employer’s gross negligence or intention caused you harm — physical or non-physical. This may include actions by other employees of the same company. The following are common intentional torts:

  • Emotional Distress: Intentional Infliction of emotional trauma by genuinely dreadful conduct
  • Battery: Physical striking by a person or object, causing you bodily harm
  • Assault: Physical assault, threats or attempt to commit a battery
  • Fraud: Lies by your employer or other employees caused your injury
  • False imprisonment: Confinement without legal authority
  • Trespass: Use of your property after entry without your consent
  • Defamation: Spreading of false information, slander and libel that causes you harm
  • Conversion: Occurs when someone makes your property his or hers after taking it without permission
  • Privacy invasion: Exposure of your private and personal photos or information to a broad audience

Grounds to sue a third party

If you can show that another person who is not your employer or his or her staff caused your injuries, you could pursue damage recovery from that entity. However, if you receive a monetary judgment in a civil court after already receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you might have to repay the provider of those benefits. The following circumstances might give rise to a third-party lawsuit:

  • Manufacturer: Injuries caused by malfunctioning or defective equipment
  • Another person: Injuries following an incident caused by an employee of another company such as being knocked down by a delivery driver

How to proceed

If you believe that the circumstances that caused your injuries or emotional harm justify more than workers’ compensation benefits, you could discuss the viability of a civil lawsuit with legal counsel. While insurance benefits typically cover only medical expenses and lost wages, a successfully presented civil personal injury lawsuit in a Tennessee civil court might result in a monetary judgment to cover future medical expenses and lost income along with emotional damages such as pain and suffering and more.