If you have been injured on the job you may be wondering about suing your employer, co-worker, the manufacturer of the equipment involved or some other person or entity involved in causing the injury. In most cases, you will not be able to sue your employer, co-worker or any other “employer” or “worker” as defined by the Workers Compensation Act.
Starting in 1917, the Workmen’s Compensation Board of British Columbia was created. Employees gave up their right to sue and employers agreed to fund a no-fault insurance system for those injured or killed on the job. Today the organization is known as WorkSafeBC and it administers the Workers Compensation Act and Regulations, including the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. As a result, if you suffer an injury, including psychological injury, illness or disease, which arises out of and in the course of employment, generally speaking, your only source of compensation will be through WorkSafeBC.
However, there are some injuries that are not covered under WorkSafeBC and there are some injuries where you can choose to either claim compensation through WorkSafeBC or sue a third party. The following is a list of some of the types of injuries that occur on the job where you may be able to sue:
- Motor vehicle accident;
- Product liability (i.e. defective equipment);
- Slip and fall not on employer premises (i.e. private residence);
- Psychological injury or mental stress (particularly where there is no accompanying physical injury, the injury is not due to an acute reaction to an event at work, or where the injury relates to a decision made by your employer to change the terms of your employment, disciplinary measures or termination of your employment);
- Injury resulting from intoxication or other substance impairment;
- Horseplay, where your conduct was a substantial deviation from the course of employment;
- Injury occurring at an educational or training institute;
- Sexual harassment; and
- Any injury that does not “arise out of and in the course of employment”.
As the situations where you can and should sue for injuries occurring on the job are unique, it is a good idea to seek legal advice before taking further action.
*Important Note: The information contained in this column should not be treated by readers as legal advice and should not be relied on without detailed legal counsel being sought.