Third-Party Claims in Workers' Compensation
While workers’ compensation benefits provide coverage for medical treatment and a portion of lost earnings, they also prevent employees from seeking additional compensation in a personal injury lawsuit against employers in most situations. State law, however, does allow third-party liability lawsuits against others who may have caused a workplace accident in many instances. The North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP can advise people who have been hurt in a job-related accident about their legal options against others who may have been at fault.Bringing a Third-Party Claim After a Work Injury
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides limited recovery to employees who have been injured in a workplace accident, requiring their employers to pay their medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages. In most cases, workers’ compensation benefits are the sole remedy for injured employees against their employers, even if the employer or another co-worker was responsible for causing the accident.
However, the law does not prohibit employees from pursuing personal injury lawsuits against other individuals or businesses whose negligent or reckless conduct contributed to their workplace accident or disease. This can be significant for employees whose workers’ compensation benefits do not fully cover their losses, since a successful plaintiff in a personal injury claim may be awarded damages such as compensation for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, punitive damages, or emotional distress.
There are several situations in which a third–party lawsuit may be appropriate. Some potential defendants include non-employees, independent contractors and sub-contractors, manufacturers of defective products, and property owners.
If you are injured in a job-related accident caused by someone who does not work for your employer, you may be able to pursue damages against that person. An example may be when someone is driving a delivery truck and another driver negligently collides with that vehicle. In these cases, the other driver may be held liable for causing the accident. Also, other workers at a job site may be liable if they create a dangerous environment or cause an accident. For example, a contractor could be held responsible for a faulty design or negligently supervising the construction project.
A product liability lawsuit may be filed against the manufacturer of a defective product that causes an accident on a job site, or other businesses that participated in the manufacture, design, and sale of the product. If you are injured while working on the property of another party, moreover, the property owner may be liable for a hazard or defect that caused the accident in a premises liability lawsuit.
A third-party lawsuit involves separate legal proceedings from workers’ compensation claims. It is also important to note that in some cases, an employee who successfully recovers damages in a third-party liability claim may be required to reimburse the employer or the employer’s insurer for some of the workers’ compensation benefits that he or she received.Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in North Carolina
At Grimes Teich Anderson LLP, our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers can inform you of your legal options after a workplace accident, including potential claims against third parties. We are proud to assist residents of Asheville, Franklin, Waynesville, Spruce Pine, Rutherfordton, and other communities. Contact our work injury lawyers at 800.533.6845 or complete our online form to schedule a free appointment.