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Can an employer’s intentional violation of a federal safety rule impact a workers’ compensation claim?

Maybe. If the injured employee can show an intentional tort or wrongdoing by the employer, the employee can file a tort or personal injury lawsuit against the employer. Normally, the employee is limited to a workers’ compensation claim against the employer. In the workers’ compensation claim, the employee is limited to the amount of lost wages they can recover, and the employee cannot recover for pain and suffering.

To escape the exclusive remedy of workers’ compensation, the employee must show that the employer acted intentionally. To show intent, the employee must prove that the employee’s injury would result from the employer’s conduct. A single violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) standard may not be sufficient, while a repeated failure to correct a safety violation may swing the result in the employee’s favor.

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