Can I Sue My Employer for My Workplace Accident?

Mitchell Byrd, Attorney, Carolina Law Group, Greenville, SC
Mitchell K. Byrd, Jr. | Attorney

As we’ve previously covered on this blog, workers’ compensation was created to provide compensation for workers injured on the job regardless of fault. In the majority of cases in South Carolina, this is the exclusive remedy. This means that the only way for an injured worker to get compensation for medical bills or lost wages is through the workers’ compensation system.

However, there are situations in which you may be able to sue your employer for an injury you sustained on the job. Here are three.

  1. Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Most companies in South Carolina are required to carry workers’ comp insurance (or, if they meet strict requirements, may self-insure). But there are a number of employers that have no obligation to carry workers’ comp insurance, including those with fewer than four employees, those with very low annual payroll, or certain businesses in agriculture or the railroad industry. (For a full list of exempt employers, see South Carolina Code Section 42-1-360.)

If your employer isn’t required to carry workers’ comp, then you cannot claim damages through that system. This is a situation where you may be able to sue your employer if they negligently injure you. 

  1. You’re Not Eligible  

Workers’ compensation doesn’t cover everyone. Independent contractors – who receive a 1099 instead of a W-2 for tax purposes – are not considered regular employees and an employer has no obligation to cover them. As an independent contractor, you are not bound by workers’ comp as an exclusive remedy. 

However, just because you may be classified as an independent contractor does not necessarily mean you are one in the eyes of the IRS or the state. If you believe you were incorrectly classified – either intentionally or by mistake – speak to an attorney about your options, as you may be able to collect through workers’ comp after all.

  1. Employer Intentionally Harmed You

Even if your employer does carry workers’ comp insurance, and even if you are a W-2 employee, this is an instance where you may be able to sue. If your employee committed an intentional tort – for example, physical battery, emotional abuse, or false imprisonment – you may be able to sue outside of workers’ compensation. 

Contact the Experienced Attorneys at The Carolina Law Group

One of the defining features of workers’ compensation is that it’s a no-fault system. That means the injured employee does not need to prove that their injury was the result of the employer’s negligence or misconduct. As long as they were injured during the course of work, they are covered and can receive compensation.

However, seeking damages from your employer outside of workers’ comp is more challenging. As with any personal injury claim, you do need to show fault, and you need to build a convincing case as to why your employer’s behavior (or lack thereof) led to your injury.

That’s why it’s important to work with experienced personal injury attorneys to help you. The attorneys at The Carolina Law Group handle both personal injury and workers’ compensation matters and can help you get the compensation you deserve if you’re injured on the job. Call one of the numbers below and schedule your free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case.

The Carolina Law Group has three offices in upstate South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), and Spartanburg (principal office; call 864.757.5555). Call today. 


Mitchell Byrd received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Wofford College in 2000. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2004, where he served on the American Bar Association Real Property, Probate, and Trust Journal. He was also an active member of the University of South Carolina Moot Court Bar. Since being sworn into the South Carolina Bar in 2004, Mr. Byrd has focused on litigation, within the criminal justice system as an economics crime prosecutor for the Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office and also within the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation system.

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