Workers’ compensation covers job-related accidents and injuries. Unfortunately, the benefits provided by workers’ compensation are not designed to pay all you have lost, so you may find that workers’ compensation goes only so far. You may need more money to fully cover expenses related to your injuries and lost wages. And workers’ compensation does not provide recovery for the pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life that often arise from an injury.
Except in rare cases of very bad conduct, beyond ordinary negligence, workers’ compensation is generally the only claim you have against your employer or co-employees. However, if the negligent actions of someone other than your employer or colleague caused your work injury, you may have a third-party liability claim. Third party claims are just like the rights you would have to sue someone for negligence, if you were not at work, and are designed to provide a full recovery for the injuries that result. In North Carolina, your workers’ compensation benefits are not affected by third-party liability. You have the right to collect both, though you may have to reimburse the workers’ compensation carrier, from the proceeds of the third party claim. That process can be complicated, so injuries that involve both workers’ compensation and third party claims often call for assistance from a qualified lawyer.
Third-party claims often center on one of five factors:
1. Defective equipment
Job-related injuries are sometimes caused by defective equipment. Faulty machinery can cause burns, electrocution or damage to limbs. If the machine contains a design flaw or a defect, you may be able to collect compensation from the manufacturer. Suppliers and distributors may also be at fault.
2. Unsafe property
Some jobs involve working at locations other than the company workplace. If you are a construction worker or service provider, you probably often work on private property. When hazards are present on those properties, injuries can result. In such cases, the owner or manager of the property may be liable for your accident or injury.
3. Risky situations
Certain jobs involve working alongside employees of other firms. When you share a worksite, you may come in contact with subcontractors who create hazards. If you become injured due to an unsafe condition created by a company other than your own, that company may need to help with expenses related to your injury.
4. Auto accidents
If you drive for work, you are at significant risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that car accidents are the number one cause of work-related deaths. Injuries are also common. Workers in the transportation, warehousing and construction industries face the highest risk. Whether you drive a truck, a delivery van or your own private vehicle, you may find yourself injured by other motorists’ reckless behavior. In such cases, you deserve compensation from the at-fault driver.
5. Negligence of others at a workplace.
When your job involves going to or otherwise working in places other than your employer’s premises, you can be exposed to injury caused by negligence of others or their employees, just like any other visitor. For example, if you are delivering office supplies to a customer, and an employee of the customer backs a forklift over your foot, there may be recovery available from the third party, in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.
Again, workers’ compensation cases that also involve third party liability raise complications that makes them more likely to require attorney representation. If you have any questions about such claims, you should call a qualified lawyer.