One of the questions that we are often asked at our law office is “What is an employer intentional tort?” Normally in Ohio, if you are injured at work, your only recourse is to make a claim through the Ohio Workers’ Compensation system. Generally speaking, you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer for compensation stemming from your work injury. However, the law provides that an injured worker can receive additional compensation on top of the standard workers’ compensation claim by filing a lawsuit if the work injury occurred as a result of the employer’s “deliberate intent” to injure the employee. As you might imagine, proving deliberate intent to injure on the part of an employer is a rather difficult task.
While the law is murky in this area, it does provide that an employer’s deliberate removal of an equipment safety guard constitutes a rebuttable presumption that the employer removed the safety guard with the intent to injure. In other words, if the employer removes an equipment safety guard which subsequently causes injury, there is a rebuttable presumption that the employer removed the equipment safety guard with the intent to injure the employee.
Oftentimes, the question becomes, “what exactly is an equipment safety guard?” The law is slowly emerging in this area. There had been some Ohio Appellate Courts who have taken a rather hard lying stance as to what constitutes an equipment safety guard. For example, if a guard that was removed is anything other than a most traditional safety guard that blocked a pinch point or a nip point on a machine, the court refuses to recognize deliberate intent. However, there have also been some more liberal courts who have indicated that items such as rubber safety gloves for electrical workers and improperly programmed punch presses constitute the deliberate removal of a safety guard.
Unfortunately, the question of whether or not somebody has a viable employer intentional tort claim depends on the appellate district in which the injured worker was injured. The only way to confirm whether you have a viable employer intentional tort claim and/or to confirm the stance that your appellate district takes in reviewing such case is to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about the circumstances and details surrounding your case. An attorney can give you an informed decision as to whether you have a case that meets the stringent requirements of an employer intentional tort.
If you have been injured at work and have questions that need to be answered, call the Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC at 419-241-1395 or at toll-free 800-637-8170. We would be happy to schedule a free consultation and answer any questions that you may have. Also, be sure to request your FREE copy of our informative publication The Ohio Work Injury Book and to receive a free case evaluation.