It only takes a second for some incident on the job to result in a significant work injury. Maybe a piece of equipment unexpectedly malfunctioned, injuring you and stopping production for the rest of the day. Perhaps you drive for work, like millions of other Americans do, and you got into a crash while technically on the clock. You could even be the victim of interpersonal violence if someone tries to rob your store while you are present.
There are countless job scenarios in which a worker could end up hurt and there may be a third party other than the injured worker or their employer who is actually to blame for the situation. Can you ask for both personal injury compensation from the responsible party and workers’ compensation benefits in these scenarios?
Workers’ compensation may not be enough
Many injured workers initially assume that workers’ compensation will fully cover all of their expenses, but that is often not the case. Although they can receive better medical coverage than many health insurance policies provide, the payment available through disability benefits will likely leave them scrambling to cover basic cost-of-living expenses.
At most, workers can receive two-thirds of their average weekly wages when they qualify for workers’ comp disability benefits. Once you initiate a workers’ compensation claim and realize there will be uncovered expenses, you may then be able to pursue a personal injury claim as well.
IMPORTANT: Workers’ compensation in Georgia is a no-fault system, so you don’t have to prove that your employer or anyone else caused your work injury. However, in Georgia, if you intend to bring a personal injury claim in addition to your workers’ comp claim, you only have two years to either file the personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party or settle with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If you have questions about these matters, we encourage you to contact our law office to learn more.
Holding a third party accountable requires evidence
There are no rules preventing you from suing a driver who caused a crash or someone who tried to rob the store where you worked just because you receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, you will need to meet a different standard of evidence than you would to secure workers’ compensation benefits.
You typically will need proof of both the other party’s contributions to your injury and the financial losses that you have suffered. For those who will experience a lengthy leave of absence from work or who may need to stop working entirely, personal injury claims may be a necessary supplement to the workers’ compensation benefits available.