Third-Party Claims in Workplace Accidents
Have you been injured at work? Dressie Law Firm has got your back, no matter who is responsible
Explore the complexities of third-party claims in workplace accidents with Dressie Law Firm. Understand your rights and options for seeking compensation beyond employer liability.
Everything To Know About Third-Party Liability Claims After Work Accidents
Usually, employees injured at work are entitled to seek workers’ compensation from their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider. This is because the employer is obligated to provide safe working conditions and implement safety measures to minimize the possibility of such work accidents or eliminate them. The employer is, therefore, held responsible for workplace accidents and injuries that occur in the process.
But what happens if a workplace accident is caused by a third party other than the employer? Would the employee still be eligible for workers’ compensation, or can they take action directly against the responsible party?
If you’re in such a position and have suffered a work injury caused by a third party, our experienced personal injury lawyers at the Dressie Law Firm can provide personalized legal guidance and strong legal representation as you seek compensation for your injuries.
In this guide, we discuss how third-party claims for work accidents work in Georgia to help you and anyone else in your position understand their rights and help you prepare for your case. Please keep reading to learn more.
Workplace Third-Party Claims in Georgia
The Georgia workers’ compensation system is exclusive and is the only way for an injured worker to get compensation from their employer. However, the law preserves the injured worker’s right to claim compensation from anyone other than their employer if that party is responsible for the accident or incident in which their injuries occurred.
Therefore, if you’ve been injured at work due to the actions of a third party, you can file a lawsuit against them to get damages (monetary compensation) for your injuries and any other losses you may have suffered. For example, in Truck Accident Liability cases or Incidents Involving Company Cars in Georgia, the employee driving the company vehicle may be able to sue the other driver involved in the accident if they were at fault.
Usually, filing a third-party lawsuit against the third party does not stop you from filing a workers’ compensation insurance claim. However, there may be some consequences, depending on the circumstances of your case, if you seek and obtain benefits through both pathways. We shall explore this angle in subsequent sections, so please continue reading to get the full details.
Why Pursue a Third-Party Liability Claim for Your Workplace Injury?
The workers’ compensation claim system is available to any employee who is injured at work or in the course of their job. All that the injured worker needs to do to get payment is follow the established procedure and show that the injury was work-related.
Based on this, it would be easy to want to rely on the system after your injury and forget about pursuing a third-party claim, even if a third party was involved.
However, workers’ compensation is a limited benefit system. The Average Settlement for Workers’ Compensation does not compensate you for every type of harm, such as psychological damage or pain and suffering. Also, the weekly benefits you can get are capped at a percentage of your weekly earnings, which may be insufficient for your lifestyle.
If you have a viable third-party claim, pursuing it is a way for you to overcome the limitations of the workers’ compensation system and increase your financial reward after your injury. You can get compensation for any harm or damage that workers’ compensation does not cover.
Who Is a Third Party Under Georgia Law?
This question sounds very simplistic, and at first glance, you may think that a third party is anyone other than your employer. However, that answer is only half correct in the context of third-party workplace injury claims in Georgia.
The law specifically excludes the following categories of people from the definition of “third party”;
A co-worker or anyone else employed by the employer
Any person providing workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers at the instance of the employer
A construction design professional such as an architect or engineer contracted to provide their professional services on or associated with a project that the injured employee was working on (unless the professional assumed liability for the safety practices during the project in a written agreement or they or their employees were negligent and their negligence was directly responsible for the injured employee’s accident).
That means filing a third-party lawsuit against them would likely be unsuccessful.
If you are unsure of the status of the responsible party, then consider consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer or workers’ compensation lawyer. They can review your case and help you determine the status of the responsible party and which compensation procedure you qualify for.
What Happens if the Employer’s Insurance Company Has Already Compensated the Injured Worker?
If a third party is responsible for your injuries but you’ve already received workers’ compensation payments, the law gives the employer or their insurance company a right called a “subrogation lien” to recover the amount they paid from any amount recovered from the liable third party. The employer or their insurance company can initiate or intervene in any lawsuit filed against the liable third party to enforce this right.
However, certain conditions must be met before an employer can make such a recovery;
The injured worker must have been fully and completely compensated for all economic and non-economic losses suffered due to their injuries.
The employer is only entitled to the amount they paid the injured employee. Therefore, if the amount they recovered exceeds the amount paid, they must pay the excess to the injured employee.
If you have filed a third-party claim and your employer or insurance company has brought a subrogation claim, you must remain alert and ensure they do not hijack your benefits without good cause. Contact a skilled attorney who can fight for you and protect your interests to get help immediately.
When To File a Third-Party Lawsuit
If there’s a third party involved in your case, you have two years to file your lawsuit against the third party. If you fail to file your case within that time, you’ll lose your right to pursue your claim.
In cases where you’ve already obtained workers’ compensation benefits, the law gives your employer the right to file a case against the third party after one year if you fail to file your independent lawsuit within that time. However, the employer must notify you if they take such steps.
Similarly, if filing your suit more than one year later, you must notify the employer. The only way to avoid that notification requirement is if you file within one year of being injured. That’s one of the reasons why it is important to act fast and begin the process as soon as possible to avoid any controversy resulting from your employer’s involvement.
Contact the Dressie Law Firm for Assistance
Although the workers’ compensation insurance features benefits for work injury victims, the settlement is never enough. That’s why it is important to consider filing a personal injury claim if there’s a third party involved in your case.
At the Dressie Law Firm, we offer personalized assistance with the workers’ compensation system and third-party claims. Our team can help you navigate the compensation process to ensure you get the settlement you deserve for your losses following a work-related accident.
Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how we can help your case.
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