Under California law, an employee cannot sue their employer for injuries sustained while on the job. Workers’ compensation laws were created to provide a solution to protect the millions of Californians who risk injury each day at work and to protect the employers from lawsuits brought by their employees.
Workers’ compensation provides benefits to employees who suffer injuries while on the job regardless of who is at fault, and even if the worker’s negligence caused or contributed to their injuries. This is known as the “exclusive solution rule” which provides that the injured employee’s sole remedy is to file a worker’s compensation claim.
As with many laws, there are a few exceptions to this exclusive remedy rule. One of the exceptions is third party work accidents.
An employee may sue a third party who contributed to their injury. This is typically seen in cases involving a defective product such as defective machinery or tools and claims of negligence by third parties. For example, an employee falls from a ladder that was both defective and negligently installed. While the employee cannot sue their employer, they may have a case against several other third parties, including the manufacturer of the ladder and the company that installed the ladder.
Generally, injured employees can pursue both a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit against a third party if the third party is not the employer.