Third-party Claims for Work Injuries
When toSeek Civil Damages as Well as Workers’ Compensation
In New Jersey, as in all states, when you are injured on the job, you can file a workers’ compensation claim fordisabilitybenefits andreimbursement of your medical expenses. The New Jersey workers’ compensation law is part of what’s known as the “great bargain,” a legislative act intended to benefit both workers and employers. For injured workers, a workers’ compensation claim offers an expedited process where benefits actually may start within a few weeks. For employers, the risk of exorbitant jury damage awards is eliminated, as workers’ compensation is calculated based on a fixed formula.
Worker’s compensation is frequently referred to as an “exclusive remedy” for work-related injuries, suggesting that you can never file a civil lawsuit seeking damages. That’s not entirely true, though. Here’s how it works.
The workers’ compensation laws are set up to provide a simplified way for workers to get benefits when there’s a careless or negligent act by an employer or co-worker. In fact, there isn’t even a requirement that you prove negligence. To qualify for workers’ compensation, you need only show that you were hurt and that the injury happened at work (there are a few limited exceptions).
If, however, your injury was caused, in part or in whole, by the wrongful acts of an unrelated third party, you may file a separate civil claim against that party. Examples include
- The driver of a motor vehicle (provided it wasn’t your employer or a co-worker) in a motor vehicle accident suffered on the job
- Any party in the chain of distribution of a dangerous or defective tool, machine or other product, including the designer, manufacturer, or retailer, if you were hurt by the malfunction of, or exposure to, that product
- A worker or person on adjoining property
A civil suit for damages can be filed simultaneously with a workers’ compensation claim, but you cannot recover damages twice for the same loss. For example, if workers’ compensation paid all your medical expenses, you can’t recover medical expenses in a civil lawsuit.
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For a private consultation with an experienced and proven New Jersey personal injury lawyer, call us at 973-315-9080 or contact us online. Appointments are available evenings and weekends, if necessary. Our offices are conveniently located in Springfield, Newark, and Bedminster, and we’ll travel to your home or the hospital for a consultation. We welcome all major credit cards. ¡Nosotroshablamosespañol!