Most people injured on the job in Georgia file a workers’ compensation claim to pay for their medical expenses and to compensate them for lost time at work. Filing a workers’ compensation claim typically voids your ability to file a lawsuit against your employer.
However, there are some circumstances when you may have a legitimate liability claim against another party.
These third-party workers’ compensation lawsuits can be complicated. It is extremely important to find a lawyer familiar with third-party workers’ compensation claims in Georgia. The injury attorneys at Moebes Law in Atlanta are here to answer your questions and to help you get the process started with an investigation of your workers’ comp claim.
Can You Sue an Employer for a Work-Related Injury?
If your injury occurred in the course of work and you open a workers’ compensation claim, you are not able to sue your employer directly. Most employers in Georgia must carry workers’ comp insurance for the express purpose of paying injured employee medical costs and benefits if the accident occurs at work.
Another at-fault party, however, could be named in a personal injury lawsuit due to your serious injuries. Third-party liability refers to workplace accidents that were caused or influenced by an outside party’s negligence. For example, this could include a third-party claim against a manufacturer of a defective part or a contractor on a work site who caused an accident.
What is Georgia’s Exclusive Remedy Doctrine?
O.C.G.A. 34-9-11 stipulates that all injuries and accidents associated with employment fall under the workers’ compensation statute. This law excludes other opportunities for remedies and rights against the employer.
The exclusive remedy doctrine requires that employees file a timely workers’ compensation report with their workplace and get medical attention immediately for injuries and illnesses developed due to carrying out your regular workplace duties.
You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you received medical treatment for the injured body part for up to a maximum of 400 weeks — as long as the injury is not categorized as catastrophic. You may also be eligible to receive a permanent partial impairment rating and associated benefits when this has been determined by an approved physician.
When Does Third-Party Liability Apply?
The exceptions to Georgia’s Exclusive Remedy Rule apply when someone else is responsible for the accident. This generates two distinct claims, your workers’ compensation claim for the injury that occurred on the job and a third party tort claim. This may arise as a result of being struck by a vehicle driven by a third party on a work site or when a person responsible for maintaining and repairing a machine fails to do so.
A comprehensive investigation is often required in order to file a third party workers’ compensation claim in which someone else may be responsible. You should still file an injury report with your employer immediately after the accident, even if you’re not yet sure it was caused by a third party.
Filing a Third-Party Lawsuit
Fault does not matter in a workers’ compensation lawsuit. However, it does apply in a personal injury lawsuit. This means that a victim of an accident caused by a third party must show a burden of proof that this other person was somehow responsible and caused your injury.
You will need to gather evidence to establish these negligence aspects of your claim, and you may need to file a third party personal injury claim and workers’ compensation claim at the same time.
What are the most common types of third-party claims for workplace accidents?
Some of the most common third-party claims include bullet equipment and machinery accidents filed against an individual responsible for manufacturing, designing, or repairing the equipment, plus transportation accidents.
Can toxic substance exposure lead to a third-party lawsuit?
Toxic substances on the job that cause death or serious injuries may also lead to third-party personal injury lawsuits. Toxic substances include things like asbestos, often found in old floor tiles, pipe insulation, and building materials. Known as latent injuries, cancer, and other diseases may take years to develop.
These claims can be very complex as the worker may not see the impact of the exposure immediately.
How much workers’ compensation pay will I receive?
There is a cap on the amount of workers’ compensation benefits employees are entitled to. You are eligible to receive up to two thirds of your average weekly pay prior to the accident but no greater than $525 a week. You are also eligible for vocational rehabilitation and medical benefits.
In some situations in which you have sustained a permanent disability, you may also be entitled to benefits for that. Injured workers are not eligible to recover compensation for pain and suffering through a workers’ compensation claim.
In a personal injury claim, however, you can fully recover your other compensable damages if you can show the other party was at fault. These damages may include disfigurement, medical bills, current and future lost wages, the impact of the injury on your wellbeing, and pain and suffering.
Do You Need a Workers’ Comp or Personal Injury Attorney in Atlanta?
If you were hurt on the job but believe one or more other parties are accountable for your injuries, a lawyer can assist with both potential claims. You need to understand both your rights and responsibilities for each one of these claims.
Particularly if you have a joint claim, our lawyers can help you gather the necessary paperwork and file it in a timely fashion to protect your legal right to compensation.
Your lawyer will also help you understand the maximum compensation types available under workers’ comp, as well as the evidence and other details needed to succeed with a personal injury claim.
If you need more assistance filing a third-party work-related injury claim in Georgia, the legal team at Moebes Law can help you review all of your rights and take critical steps to get needed compensation. Contact us today to review your situation for free.