One of the most common questions our workers' compensation lawyers hear from injured workers in Raleigh and elsewhere in North Carolina is, "Can I file a personal injury claim and pursue workers' comp benefits at the same time?"
Unfortunately, there are significant restrictions on your ability to file a personal injury claim as a result of a workplace injury. Put simply, you generally give up your ability to pursue a personal injury claim against your employer when you file for workers' compensation.
Under the state's workers' comp law, these cases are handled through the Industrial Commission and not seen as personal injury cases. This does restrict the compensation you are able to pursue (workers' comp generally does not cover pain and suffering, for example), but there are also benefits – most notably a faster process with reliable compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.
When you file a personal injury claim, there has to be a liable party; an individual or an entity at fault. For workers’ comp, liability or fault is, under most circumstances, not an issue. This limits the amount of money you can collect, but makes available compensation even in situations where you may have been partially liable or in cases where there your injury is simply the result of an unavoidable accident. Personal injury cases may net more compensation, but they usually take significantly more time, and a desirable settlement is never guaranteed. Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers will carefully assess your accident to help you determine which type of claim is best for your case.
Under North Carolina workers’ comp law, you can pursue a personal injury claim if your workplace accident was the result of third-party negligence. That is, if the responsibility is not yours or your employer's, but instead on another party – for example, an equipment manufacturer or a vehicle driver on the premises. Our workers' compensation lawyers will, of course, thoroughly consider and discuss all of your legal options during your free initial consultation.
If you live in Raleigh, Charlotte or any other North Carolina community and you want an experienced workers' compensation lawyer, please contact White & Stradley, PLLC online or by calling our Raleigh, NC office at 919-863-9397 for a free consultation.