Most of the time, if you are injured in an accident at work, you will be limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance policy to pay for your medical expenses and partial replacement of the wages you lost while recovering.
However, if your injuries were caused by someone other than your employer or a co-worker, you may be eligible to file a third-party claim. If you can show that negligence on the part of that third party harmed you, then you may be able to recover significantly more compensation than you would from workers’ compensation alone.
To learn more about your potential options for filing a third-party claim, contact the Norcross personal injury attorneys of Adamson & Cleveland, LLC now for a free consultation.
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When You Are Entitled to More Than Workers’ Comp
If you are injured on the job, regardless of whether your employer was negligent, you should be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Except in rare circumstances, you are generally barred from suing your employer if they carry workers’ compensation insurance, meaning you can only recover the benefits allowed under workers’ comp rules. Payments for losses such as pain and suffering are not available under workers’ compensation.
If your workplace injuries were caused in full or in part by a third party, however, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim against them outside of the workers’ comp system. To do so, you will have to be able to prove that a person or organization separate from your employer caused your injuries through negligence.
Some common types of third-party claims involve:
- Vehicle collisions – If your job requires you to drive all day, it is likely that you will eventually be involved in a crash. If your crash was caused by another driver, a car manufacturer, or a government responsible for maintaining a road, you may be able to pursue a third-party claim against this party.
- Product defect – If a product you use in the course of your work malfunctions and you are injured as a result, you may be able to sue the product designer, manufacturer, or retailer in a products liability claim.
- Contractor negligence – If your injuries are the fault of a contractor not employed by your employer, such as is often the case at construction sites, you may be able to pursue a claim against the contractor.
- Premises liability – If in the course of your work you visit someone else’s property and are injured due to a hazard present there, you may be able to sue the property owner for negligence.
- Coworker negligence – Sometimes, it is possible to sue a co-worker for your injuries if they caused them through gross negligence or malice. The most common cause of this kind of third-party claim is coworker assault.
Pursuing a third-party claim does not bar you from collecting workers’ compensation.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
Under normal circumstances, you cannot hold your employer liable for an injury you sustain in the workplace. However, there are a few exceptions to this general rule:
- Lack of workers’ compensation insurance – Employers are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in almost every case. If your employer does not carry this insurance, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against them. You may also file a claim with the state to receive the workers’ compensation benefits you should have been provided.
- Gross negligence – If your injury was the result of gross negligence on the part of your employer, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. You will have to have very compelling evidence to prove that your employer’s actions were egregious in order to do this successfully.
- Employer assault – If your employer assaulted you, causing your injuries, you may be able to sue your employer.
If these three exceptions do not apply, your only likely options are to file for workers’ compensation or to file a claim against a third party. This third-party claim can be filed against any outside person or entity that contributed to your injuries.
Common defendants in third-party claims include:
- Drivers of vehicles
- Property managers and owners
- Product manufacturers
- Government agencies
Who you name in a third-party suit will vary depending on the specifics of your case.
Types of Compensation Available in a Third-Party Injury Claim
Under normal conditions, the type of compensation you can recover with a workers’ compensation claim is limited. With workers’ compensation alone, you can generally recover:
- Medical expenses – Workers’ compensation should reimburse you for your medical expenses, including surgeries, hospital stays, doctor appointments, medications, medical devices, and more. However, the treatment must be deemed “reasonable and necessary” by the insurance company.
- Partial lost wages – If you had to miss work due to your injuries, workers’ compensation can pay you for part of the wages you lost. If your time off work is going to extend far into the future, workers’ compensation may also cover your future lost wages.
- Vocational training – If you are unable to return to your old job after your injury and have to be trained to perform a new job, the costs of this training may be covered by workers’ compensation.
If you pursue a third-party claim, your damages will not be limited in this way. In addition to recovering the types of losses payable by workers’ comp, you may also be able to recover money for:
- Full lost wages – There is no cap on lost wage compensation in a third-party negligence claim.
- Pain and suffering – Mental anguish you have experienced due to your injury, as well as an inability to do activities you once enjoyed, can be compensated through a third-party claim.
- Loss of consortium – If your relationship with your spouse is adversely affected due to your injuries, you can recover money for this loss.
- Punitive damages – If the third party’s actions were especially egregious, you may be able to seek punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish defendants and discourage them from behaving similarly in the future.
For this reason, you may potentially receive far more money if you are able to pursue a third-party claim than if you only file for workers’ compensation.
How a Lawyer Can Help With a Third-Party Injury Claim
If you think a third party may have contributed to your accident, you should contact our lawyers for assistance. We stand ready to investigate the details of your case to determine whether a third-party claim is possible.
If so, we can gather the necessary evidence, fill out the necessary paperwork, and negotiate with insurance on your behalf.
If you have suffered a workplace injury as a result of a third party’s negligence in Atlanta, contact Adamson & Cleveland, LLC for help today. We can assist you with both your workers’ compensation claim and your third-party claim to ensure you pursue the full amount of compensation you need and deserve.