Can You Sue Your Employer for a Fall at Work?

After you fall at your office building or jobsite and suffer injuries, you may wonder if you can sue your employer for a fall at work. Although there are a few circumstances where you could bring a slip and fall claim against your employer after suffering injuries, the vast majority of these types of cases will need to become a workers’ compensation claim.

Trust that the Sumwalt Anderson lawyers for a fall at work will be able to help you determine what kinds of steps you should take after suffering injuries. If your situation fits under one of the rare circumstances where you could bring a negligence claim against your employer for a fall at work, our team will help you move forward with your case. Or if you need to file for benefits under workers’ comp in North Carolina, our team can help with this situation, too. Call Sumwalt Anderson today at (704) 377-3770 to discuss your slip and fall case.


Can You Sue Your Employer for a Fall at Work?

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Our Lawyer for a Fall at Work May Be Able to Help if Your Injuries Occurred When You Were Not Working

You may have clocked out and been leaving work, or you may have stopped at your place of work to pick up something not related to your job when your fall injury occurred. If your fall happened when you were not actually working, it is possible that you can sue your employer for a fall at work. However, a court of law might not agree with you and will require that your case end up as part of a workers’ compensation case anyway.

This is a tricky situation. To determine whether we have the ability to sue your employer for a fall at the employer’s premises that did not involve you actually working, we have to be able to show a few things were occurring at the time of your fall and your injuries, such as:

  • Even if you were in the area of the building where you normally work, you were clearly not working.
  • You were in an area of the property or building where you would never be for work.
  • You were on the worksite or employer’s premises at a time when you do not normally perform work.
  • You clearly were not performing tasks related to your normal course of work.

We Also Must Show Negligence on the Part of Your Employer

If we can show that your fall occurred during actions that had nothing to do with your normal course of employment, we then would have to be able to prove negligence on the part of your employer. This negligent action must create circumstances that led to your fall. Some of these actions could include:

  • Failing to remove hazards from a common walkway where you were walking, leading to a trip
  • Failing to clean slick substances from a common walkway, leading to a slip
  • Failing to place proper lighting in a place where you were walking, leading to a trip
  • Failing to maintain safety rails or fencing in a place where you were walking, leading to a fall from height
  • Failing to post warning signs about a fall hazard in an area where you were walking.

Once we show that your case does not involve workers’ comp, it then can become a personal injury case involving a fall. Our Charlotte slip and fall attorneys can help you attempt to prove that the employer acted in a negligent manner, so you can win a judgment in your personal injury claim. Because a situation involving your bringing a personal injury claim against your employer is so rare, though, our attorneys at Sumwalt Anderson can study the facts to determine whether you have a personal injury case or a workers’ compensation case.

Uncommon Situations Where You Could File a Lawsuit for a Fall at Work

It is a rare circumstance where you were at your work premises but not working when your fall occurred. In the vast majority of cases, when you are wondering whether you can sue your employer for a fall at work (when you were actually working), the answer is no. Generally, workers’ compensation rules take over any case where you suffer an injury at work, including a fall.

However, there are a few circumstances where a fall at work potentially does not fit under North Carolina workers’ compensation laws, leaving you with the possibility to bring a claim outside of workers’ comp.

Your Employer Intentionally Tried to Injure You

If you believe your employer purposefully created a dangerous situation for you that led to your fall with injuries, you often can sue your employer for a fall at work outside of the normal workers’ compensation claim process. Such an accusation can be difficult to prove, so it is important to hire our team of lawyers for a fall at work to begin investigating the case immediately to find facts that show the act was intentional. Some of the situations that may show an intentional action on the part of your employer, leading to your injuries in a fall, could include:

  • Shoving you down some stairs or pushing you to the ground in anger
  • Intentionally disabling a safety harness or safety railing that you are using
  • Purposefully forcing you to climb on a broken ladder or on improperly assembled scaffolding
  • Forcing you to climb on a high shelf in a warehouse that the employer knows is probably not secure enough to support your weight
  • Throwing ball bearings or another trip hazard in your path as you are walking.

The employer may try to claim that the action that led to your injury was a joke or was not intentional. This can greatly complicate deciding whether filing for workers’ comp or suing for a fall at work is most appropriate. If you have an unusual case like this, count on the warehouse accident attorneys at Sumwalt Anderson to represent you and to help you sort out the facts.

Your Employer Does Not Meet the Employee Threshold

According to the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, if a business has two or fewer employees, it does not need to carry workers’ comp insurance. This is a rare circumstance, but it may fit your situation. If so, then potentially you can sue for an injury from a fall at work.

Your Employer Meets One of the Exemptions for Carrying Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If you are a farm laborer or if you work for a certain railroad, your employer may be exempt from needing to carry workers’ comp insurance in North Carolina. For example, an agricultural company or a small farmer that employs fewer than 10 full-time laborers could be exempt from carrying this insurance.

If You Can Sue Your Employer for a Fall at Work, It Will Be an Extremely Rare Occurrence

As mentioned earlier, it is rare for you to suffer a fall injury while at work and not have the case fit under the state’s workers’ comp laws. The laws even apply if the employer does not purchase workers’ comp insurance on purpose.

In North Carolina, if the employer should carry workers’ comp insurance under the law but fails to do so, the North Carolina Industrial Commission may open a criminal investigation against the employer, leading to the potential for a misdemeanor or felony charge and significant fines. Additionally, the state may force the employer to pay for your workers’ comp claim from the employer’s own funds, giving you the same award as if the employer had properly purchased workers’ compensation insurance. In a case like this, there is no chance for you to sue for an injury from the fall at work.

Even though the ability for you to sue for a fall at work is unlikely, it may be worth exploring when you experienced injuries after a fall at work with unusual circumstances. The factory accident lawyers at Sumwalt Anderson are ready to hear some of the details of your case during a free consultation. We then can give you advice on whether we believe your case fits under workers’ comp or under a separate lawsuit. For a case review, call us as soon as possible at (704) 377-3770.

Can You Sue for a Fall at Work if the Insurer Denies Your Workers’ Comp Claim?

No, you cannot sue your employer for a fall at work when the workers’ comp insurance company denies your claim. However, with the help of our workers’ comp lawyers, we can request a hearing before the North Carolina Industrial Commission to seek a reversal of the decision. This will work a bit like a court case, as we will present facts that show why you should win the claim.

Chances Are High That Your Suing Your Employer for a Fall at Work Will Not Happen and Will Become a Workers’ Comp Claim Instead

Outside of the highly unusual circumstances listed earlier, if you were performing work at the time of your injury, in nearly every North Carolina case, workers’ compensation insurance will take over your claim. You will not have an opportunity to sue your employer.

Workers’ comp laws in North Carolina exist to protect both you and your employer from the unpredictable nature of lawsuits. Our workers’ compensation attorneys can explain the inner workings of workers’ comp when you hire us, but the basic protections that workers’ compensation laws provide include:

  • For the Employer: Rather than being subject to extremely expensive lawsuits that could bankrupt a company, workers’ comp insurance protects the employer by creating an insurance pool to cover such incidents without lawsuits or going to court.
  • For the Employee: Rather than potentially losing any financial compensation for your work-related injury through an unsuccessful lawsuit, workers’ comp insurance ensures that you receive at least some payment for your injury, even if it is a lower amount than what you possibly could win in a personal injury lawsuit.

As a benefit to both parties, workers’ comp insurance does not require any proof of fault. If the employee made a mistake on the job that led to the accident, as long as the mistake was an honest one and did not occur in an attempt to create an injury on purpose, the employee qualifies for workers’ comp.

Attorney Mark Sumwalt

Mark Sumwalt is a native of Rock Hill, South Carolina who has practiced law in Charlotte since 1981, primarily in the field of worker’s compensation. He has litigated hundreds of cases to decision all over the state and handled many significant appeals to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court, particularly in the area of attendant care. [ Attorney Bio ]


Recovered on behalf of a young woman who sustained a catastrophic brain injury as the result of an automobile collision with a large commercial vehicle. Learn More.


Recovered on behalf of a young woman who sustained catastrophic injuries when she was involved in an automobile accident involving a tractor-trailer truck while she was on the job. Learn More


Recovered on behalf of the gentlemen (plaintiff/client) who was injured when a mislabeled stack of batteries exploded causing significant burns on his entire body. Learn More


Recovered on behalf of a husband and wife who sustained serious injuries in a rollover accident in New Mexico. Learn More


Recovered for a married construction worker who suffered a catastrophic spinal injury due to a crush injury caused by cargo falling from an 18-wheeler. Learn More


Recovered following the death of a young man from Charlotte, NC caused by a rear-ended collision with a tractor trailer that was parked in a travel lane of 1-40 without any lights on. Learn More

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    Can You Sue for an Injury From a Fall at Work? Not if You Participate in Workers’ Compensation

    When you, as an employee, participate in the workers’ comp insurance program in North Carolina, you lose the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer after an injury accident. This participation is automatic and implied when your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance and when you become an employee.

    State law does not allow you to file a lawsuit separately from a workers’ comp claim, except in unusual circumstances. For example, if you can show that a third-party company or person did something that played a role in your fall at work, you may be able to file under your employer’s workers’ comp insurance plan and bring a separate personal injury claim against the third party (but not against your employer). Again, this is not common, but our team of attorneys can help you determine whether you can sue your employer or a third party for a fall at work.

    If You May Want to Sue Your Employer for a Fall at Work, We Are Ready to Help You Decide the Best Path Forward

    It can be difficult to understand exactly when you can bring a lawsuit for a fall at work. These cases sometimes have unusual circumstances that create complexities. Fortunately, our team fully understands every aspect of the state’s laws. We can help you determine whether your situation fits into the unusual case where you can sue for a fall at work.

    If not, our team of attorneys also can help you with filing under the State of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation rules. We know that when you are trying to deal with injuries that leave you unable to work as much as you did before your fall injury – or unable to work at all – filling out the proper paperwork to file your claims can be significantly challenging. Our workers’ comp lawyers will stand by your side from the start of your case to the conclusion. Call Sumwalt Anderson for help with your case at (704) 377-3770. We offer a free consultation, and you do not have to pay anything ahead of time to secure our services.