Workplace Third Party Lawsuits
I’m Ed Smith, a workers’ compensation lawyer in Sacramento. If you are injured at work in California, you have a means to pay for medical treatment and lost wages known as workers’ compensation insurance. As a condition of receiving such benefits, a worker is unable to sue their employer. That said, what if the injury was due to a third party’s negligence? Can you file a lawsuit against the third party? Can you still collect workers’ comp? Let’s look at workers’ compensation insurance, third-party lawsuits and answer these important questions.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Under this insurance, most of your medical treatment will be covered if eligibility is confirmed. A portion of your wages will also be paid if you are also unable to work due to the injury. However, you are unable to recover for the pain and suffering the injury caused you. Further, the amount a worker collects for lost wages is about 66 percent of the employee’s usual pre-tax or gross wages. That means if a worker earns $1,500 a week before taxes, he or she should get approximately $1,000 each week. Medical bills are paid directly to the healthcare provider as long as the treatment is for the work-related injury and approved by insurance.
Can a Worker Sue Their Employer With Workers’ Compensation?
When a worker accepts workers’ comp, they will be unable to sue their employer except in some specific areas:
- Intentional harm by the employer: An example of this is when an employer strikes an employee. However, if the employer is defending themselves against an assault by the employee, it does not count.
- Absence of workers’ compensation insurance at work: This exception holds if the employer lacks WC insurance or has illegally chosen to carry an insufficient amount of WC insurance.
- Gross negligence: An example is when an employer in a machine shop removes the safety guards from a machine to speed up work.
Third Party Lawsuit
When a worker is injured by the negligence of a third party, a personal injury lawsuit can be filed. This can occur if the employee is injured by another negligent driver while delivering goods to a customer on company time. In this case, the employee can file a claim against the driver or his or her company if the defendant was also working at the time of the accident. Other examples of work-related injuries are:
- The worker was injured by a defective product such as a tool.
- Slips, trips, and falls occurred at work due to a property owner’s negligence.
- Injuries suffered by a subcontractor were due to the general contractor’s negligence.
What Can Be Recovered in a Third Party Lawsuit
The worker injured by a third party can recover:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
How Workers’ Compensation and a Third Party Lawsuit Differ
One of the big differences is that in the civil third-party case, the worker needs to prove negligence. In a workers’ comp case, the worker will receive compensation no matter who is at fault. Another difference is that in a third party case, the worker can collect for pain and suffering. This is not collectible in a workers’ compensation case.
The advisability of pursuing a third party lawsuit is best answered by a workers’ compensation attorney. In addition, it is important to ask your lawyer if you should drop your workers’ comp case in favor of a civil lawsuit. Remember that a civil lawsuit is often concluded after treatment has ceased, and the total damages can be adequately assessed. Without workers’ comp, the payment for treatment is either paid by the insurance or waits until the lawsuit is settled or a verdict is given. Repayment to workers’ comp is necessary if a civil judgment or settlement is won. If both are done simultaneously, the employer can file a claim or lien against what you receive from the civil suit to recover what he or she paid out.
Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a workers’ compensation lawyer in Sacramento. If you are injured at work due to a third party’s negligence, you will have questions about whether to file a negligence lawsuit against the person or company. I will give you friendly advice, free of charge. Just call me at locally at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 outside the area. You can reach me online too.
I’ve won verdicts and settlements of one million dollars or more for clients. For this reason, I was inducted into the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a nationwide group. Take a look at my settlements and verdicts page, which lists a few.
I built and own AutoAccident.com to give clients a place where they can research personal injury topics.
Photo Attribution: https://pixabay.com/en/car-van-fedex-delivery-transport-438029/
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