Ohio law makes it very difficult, but not impossible, for an injured worker to succeed with an intentional tort lawsuit against his or her employer. So, while the simplest answer to the question of whether someone who gets hurt on the job can sue his or her company while also pursuing workers’ compensation benefits is yes, that answer is incomplete.

What Is an Intentional Tort?

“Tort” is the legal term for harm. This means that an intentional harm occurs when a person or organization hurts someone on purpose. Knowing that someone would almost definitely get hurt but doing nothing to minimize the danger could also make a person or organization liable for causing an intentional tort. In the context of an injury that might merit a workers’ comp claim and an intentional tort lawsuit, the harm might occur from a manager issuing equipment known to be defective or executives refusing to install railings and other safety measures.

What Does Ohio Law Say About Suing an Employer for an Intentional Tort?

Section 2745.01 of the Ohio Revised Code states

In an action brought against an employer by an employee, or by the dependent survivors of a deceased employee, for damages resulting from an intentional tort committed by the employer during the course of employment, the employer shall not be liable unless the plaintiff proves that the employer committed the tortious act with the intent to injure another or with the belief that the injury was substantially certain to occur.

In plain English, this means that civil court judges will only side with a worker who brings an intentional tort lawsuit against his or her employer if a great deal of evidence shows that the worker was deliberately put in harm’s way or offered no training or means to protect him or herself.

Working with an Ohio intentional tort attorney would be essential to collecting, organizing, and presenting such evidence. At a minimum, building the case would require conducting numerous lengthy interviews with co-workers and managers, inspecting the worksite, analyzing written procedures and work rules, and consulting with all kinds of experts who could assess the risks for harm and offer knowledgeable opinions on why the injury or illness occurred.

How Does Workers’ Comp Relate to an intentional Tort Lawsuit?

Applying to Ohio Workers’ Compensation is completely separate from any legal actions taken to receive compensation and damages for an intentional tort. Despite this, the processes share many similarities, including:

  • The same evidence of the injury or illness and why it developed is used, such as witness accounts and medical records.
  • The employer has the right to contest claims.
  • The injured or ill worker has the right to be represented by an attorney who handles intentional torts and workers’ compensation at all times.

The best way to know if you have grounds for pursuing an intentional tort lawsuit in addition to a workers’ compensation claim is to consult with a lawyer. You can set up a no-cost, no-obligation appointment to speak with an attorney for intentional torts at the Cleveland offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman by calling (800) 678-3318 or completing this online contact form.