Workers’ compensation provides injured workers with much-needed benefits including wage replacement and medical coverage. However, there are limits on the types and amounts of damages you can collect. If the negligence of a party other than your employer caused your work-related injury in Atlanta, you may have another legal avenue in which to pursue compensation. In addition to your workers’ compensation claim, you can file a third party claim, often referred to as a personal injury claim or third-party liability claim.
Filing a Third-Party Claim
With workers’ compensation, fault does not come into play. In exchange for the security of your workers’ compensation benefits, you cannot sue your employer.
With a personal injury lawsuit, on the other hand, you will have the burden of proof to show that a third party was somehow negligent and that the negligence was the cause of your injury. You’ll need to present evidence to establish the elements of your claim.
You can file a workers’ compensation and a third party personal injury claim simultaneously.
Workers’ Compensation vs. Personal Injury Settlements
There’s a notable difference between the types and amounts of damages and/or benefits you can receive with each type of claim:
- Workers’ compensation settlements – There’s a cap on the amount of workers’ compensation benefits you can receive. Injured workers are entitled to income replacement (two-thirds of your average weekly pay before your injury, but no more than $525/week), medical benefits, and vocational rehabilitation. Injured workers may also be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits; however, injured workers cannot recover compensation for pain and suffering through their workers’ compensation claims.
- Personal injury – With a personal injury suit, you can fully recover your damages if you can prove the third party was at fault. Compensable damages include your current and future lost wages, medical bills, disfigurement, the effect of your injury on your well-being, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Types of Third-Party Claims for Workplace Injuries
Some examples of third-party claims include:
- Transportation incidents (filed against a third-party driver or vehicle/vehicle part manufacturer);
- Chemical exposure accidents (if the manufacturer/distributor of the chemical acted negligently, leading to the accident); and
- Machinery and equipment accidents (filed against a person who improperly designed, manufactured or repaired the equipment).
The above list of potential types of third-party claims is by no means all-inclusive. If a third party’s negligence led to a workplace accident and injury, you may have grounds for a third-party claim.
A Note about Subrogation
If workers’ compensation has paid you benefits or covered your medical care, and you later file a third-party claim, the workers’ compensation insurer might try to recover the monies they paid to you or on your behalf. They can do this by filing a lien against your third-party case, a process known as subrogation.
An attorney can try to prevent this from happening. Under Georgia law, in order for a workers’ compensation insurer to subrogate your third-party personal injury claim, they must prove that you were made whole. These types of cases are complex. Speak with an attorney to discuss the fine print and take the steps necessary to protect your assets.
Contact an Attorney Now If You’re Ready to File a Claim!
If you’re ready to file your claim for damages, don’t wait any longer to take action. You have two years from the date of injury to file your claim for damages, per Georgia Code Section 9-3-33. At Bader Law Firm, LLC, our attorneys are ready to advise you on whether or not you have a third-party liability claim for damages (or whether should file your claim under workers’ compensation insurance), how to file your claim, and what benefits you may be awarded as a result. To meet with our legal team at your earliest convenience, schedule your consultation now by calling 678-562-5595.