You cannot sue your employer and collect workers' compensation, but that does not necessarily mean that you do not have a lawsuit against a third party in addition to your Workers’ Compensation claim.
If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, the experienced North Carolina workers' compensation attorneys at White & Stradley can help you determine if you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits, whether you are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party, or both.
The Workmen’s Compensation Trade Off
There are cases in which you would collect workmen’s compensation and still file a personal injury lawsuit. The lawsuit would be against a third party, not your employer.
These laws also protect employers. When you collect workers' compensation for your injuries, you cannot sue your employer.
The advantage to the worker is a much greater chance of receiving compensation for your injuries. The disadvantage is that you will almost definitely receive less in workmen’s compensation benefits than you would if you were to sue your employer and win. Workmen’s compensation minimizes both your risk and your gain.
Workers' Compensation Plus a Lawsuit
There are cases in which you would collect Workers’ Compensation and still file a personal injury lawsuit. The lawsuit would be against a third party, not your employer.
There are many circumstances which could give rise to a third party lawsuit. For instance, this can happen if you were injured by a defective product, such as in an equipment malfunction. If you were injured in an auto accident while on the job, you would be covered by workmen’s compensation, but another driver may also be held responsible for your accident. If a disgruntled customer becomes violent and injures you, you may also be able to sue.
How a Workers' Compensation Attorney can Help
Sometimes it is not clear or obvious who is at fault when you are injured. In addition to protecting your rights when dealing with the insurance company, your workmen’s compensation attorney can help you determine if a personal injury lawsuit against a third party is also appropriate.
If you pursue a lawsuit, you can receive compensation that is not available through workers' compensation. A personal injury lawsuit can mean compensation for losses such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. The party who is responsible for your injuries may even be required to pay punitive damages.
If you have suffered an on the job injury in North Carolina, please contact White & Stradley, PLLC today to find out how best to pursue your case.