Every month, a reader asks one of our sponsor legal experts about a work-related issue. These building trades law professionals respond in an Organized Labor exclusive. This month's expert is Hillary Allyn of the Arns Law Firm. Ask Hillary a question at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Visit The Arns Law Firm website.

I was injured on the job. Someone told me I cannot sue my employer. Is it true that I cannot sue my employer? What else can I do besides filing a Workers' Compensation claim?

It is usually true that you cannot bring a civil lawsuit directly against your employer for an on-the-job injury. In some cases, Workers' Compensation is the exclusive remedy for on-the-job injuries. This means that your only legal recourse is bringing a claim under Workers' Compensation, which is a lousy system with extremely limited benefits. There are some exceptions, however.

If a 3rd party causes your injury, you may be entitled to millions of dollars in addition to Workers' Compensation benefits:

  1. The employer is the 1st party;
  2. the employee is the 2nd party;
  3. the other person causing the injury is the 3rd party

Example: A crane operator negligently kills a construction worker. If the crane operator works for the same employer as the construction worker, the case is limited to only Workers' Compensation benefits due to the family. If the crane operator works for a different employer than the construction worker, then the family can pursue a 3rd party case against the employer of the crane operator in addition to pursuing the Workers' Compensation case.

The recovery is substantially greater in a 3rd party case than in a Workers' Compensation case.

There are a few exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule in Workers' Compensation making it so that you can sue the employer in a civil lawsuit. You should consult a lawyer immediately! You may also be able to petition the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board for an increase in benefits for serious and willful misconduct on the part of the employer, but again, consult a lawyer – an experienced attorney can analyze the facts of your particular case and maximize your recovery.


-Hillary Allyn, The Arns Law Firm, San Francisco, CA
Ask Hillary a question at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information on work-site accidents and
your legal options, visit the ARNS Website.

"Interaction via "Ask the Expert" does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Any advice given is neither legal advice nor does it serve as a replacement for hiring an attorney. In addition, any case results mentioned or discussed are not guarantees of similar results."

Hillary Allyn

This Month's Expert; Hillary Allyn

Hillary Allyn has a strong background in Workers' Compensation. She litigates cases involving construction injury, workers' compensation, personal injury, employment discrimination, and serious and willful employer misconduct.

Hillary was an extern to the Honorable Judge Teri Jackson at the San Francisco Superior Court. Her experience and her fluency in Spanish allow her to successfully represent our Spanish-speaking client base.

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