If you've lately fallen victim to a work-related injury, it may seem unjust that you're only able to seek compensation through the workers' comp route and not through a personal injury case. However, even if your employer's negligence directly led to your injury, they're probably still covered by the protection that offering workers' comp earns them. In some situations, though, you may be able to sue a third party or, in a few rare cases, you may even be able to sue your employer if they've forfeited the protection of workers' comp. Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you decide if you may have a case before you contact a personal injury attorney.
1. Did your employer fail to insure you with workers' comp or refuse your claim?
Common advice given is that you may be able to sue your employer if you weren't covered by workers' comp. However, this is only relevant if your employer was required to have workers' comp in the first place. In some states, such as North Carolina, your employer may not be required to insure you if, for example, you're the only employee in the business. Very small businesses are often exempt from the workers' comp requirements, so be sure to check the requirements of the state you work in. If you were working in a different state at the time of the injury, check the requirements there as well because your employer is still required to follow them. If your employer does have workers' comp but refused your legitimate claim, you may also have a case.
2. Was your injury caused by a third party?
If an irate customer knocked you down while you were on customer service duty, you may be able to sue the customer, since he or she is not protected by the workers' comp agreement. Or if you were in a collision with another vehicle while on the clock and the other driver was at fault, or you were injured in some other way by a third party not related to your employer while performing your job duties, you may be able to both sue the person at fault and collect your workers' comp payment.
3. Was your injury caused intentionally rather than through an accident?
Employers pay for workers' comp insurance so they'll be immune from personal injury lawsuits from their employees. If your employer harms you directly and intentionally, however, this protection is void.
These three questions can help you figure out whether or not it's worth pursuing a personal injury case in addition to your workers' comp claim. Be sure to consult with a reputable personal injury lawyer before making your final decision.
Talk to professionals like Lawyer, Lawyer, Dutton & Drake LLP for more information.