Third-Party Claims after a Workplace Injury
Situations Where You May Not Be Limited to Workers’ Compensation
When you’ve been hurt on the job, one of your first steps will typically be to notify your employer and file a claim, if necessary, to secure workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation laws were enacted to help injured employees get easier and quicker access to benefits. There are, however, limitations to what you can receive through a workers’ compensation claim. You may have been told that workers’ compensation is your “exclusive remedy” for recovery after a work-related injury. This may or may not be true.
How Can You Pursue Compensation in Court for Work-Related Injuries?
The New Jersey workers’ compensation laws provide for compensation when you are injured because of the wrongdoing of your employer or a co-worker. If, however, your injuries are caused by an unrelated third party, your claims against that third party do not have to be resolved through a workers’ compensation claim. You can file what is referred to as a “third-party claim,” a lawsuit in civil court seeking damages. In fact, you can file a third-party claim simultaneously with a workers’ compensation claim. The only caveat—you cannot recover for the same losses in both proceedings. For example, if your medical expenses are fully covered by work comp, you can’t recover for those losses in a civil lawsuit.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Third-Party Lawsuit
With a workers’ compensation claim, the amount you can potentially recover will be limited, based on your average weekly wages over the last 52 weeks. There’s no potential to recover for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life or loss of companionship or consortium. With a civil lawsuit, those types of damages are available.
However, in a workers’ compensation claim, you don’t need to establish negligence on the part of your employer. You need only show that you were injured and the injury occurred while you were working. Furthermore, if your work comp claim is approved, you can start receiving benefits in a few weeks. In a civil lawsuit, unless you settle, you can wait months or years to recover any compensation.
Contact Our Office
At the Lee Law Firm, we have extensive knowledge and experience successfully handling personal injury claims. We take all personal injury cases on a contingency basis—you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover compensation for your losses.
¡Nosotros hablamos español!