Getting back on your feet after a serious workplace accident interferes with your ability to earn a living requires both a physical and financial recovery. While members of the workforce hurt on the job can go through workers’ comp for help, there are serious limitations many injured employees aren’t aware of when they start navigating the process. You may end up needing to pursue both a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party lawsuit against a different negligent party other than your employer.
Why You Need to File a Third-Party Claim for a Workplace Injury
Third-party claims are frequently necessary because you are only allowed to recover payment for extremely specific damages through the workers’ compensation system. By pursuing a workers’ comp claim, an injured employee in Louisiana can specifically gain benefits covering:
- Disability in cases when you can’t return to work at all
- Hospital bills, the ER visit, and other medical costs like medications or surgeries
- Mileage to and from doctor appointments and other medical services
- Retraining or vocational rehabilitation if your injury prevents you from returning to the same position at your job
- Supplemental payments in situations where you can go back to work but have to work fewer hours or move into a lower-paying position
- Up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage while recovering from the injury
While those benefits will cover some of your costs after an injury, there is obviously a hole left by the reduced wage benefits. Under most circumstances, employees also specifically can’t recover anything for pain and suffering through workers’ comp. Even if the injury left you with severe emotional trauma or reduced qualify of life, those factors aren’t considered at all in your benefits like they would be in a normal personal injury lawsuit.
That leaves many injured workers in a situation where they aren’t receiving the full amount they actually deserve. Louisiana law leaves the option open to seek compensation from a third party who caused the accident, however, even if you successfully get payment from workers’ comp.
That means it is often useful to bring a lawsuit against someone besides your employer while applying for workers’ comp at the same time. By taking both routes, you increase the chances of receiving a fair amount that covers all your costs, particularly in terms of lost wages and non-economic damages. That can be especially important if you suffered a disfiguring injury, or are dealing with reduced mobility or chronic pain issues from the work accident.
This type of third-party claim is available as an option if you were hurt by someone other than a fellow employee. For instance, a third-party claim may be a good idea when a delivery driver is hurt in a car accident, a worker on a job site is harmed by faulty parts or improperly repaired equipment, and so on. You may need to file a third-party personal injury claim if you were harmed by:
- Chemicals such as liquid solvents or dangerous gasses
- Defective equipment
- Sub-contractor negligence
- Slip and falls or other premises liability issues when harmed on someone’s property for work reasons
- Vehicle collision with someone other than a co-worker, either on a job site or while traveling for work
Protect Your Financial Recovery With the Help of an Attorney
To receive a settlement or court judgement against the third party, it’s important to take the right steps—both directly after the accident and in the weeks ahead. First and foremost, any workplace accident victim should report the incident to their employer immediately and then seek medical care. After requesting a copy of the incident report from your employer, your next step is to work with an attorney to thoroughly investigate the accident.
That investigation’s goal is to determine who is specifically liable for your injury and can provide compensation beyond a simple workers’ comp claim. Your lawyer may need to use video of the incident, accident reconstruction experts, employment records, medical documents, and other sources to establish who caused your injury and how it has affected your life.
Your attorney can then use evidence gathered at the scene or provided by eyewitnesses to argue your case in court against the third party responsible for the injury. The negligent party who owes you damages could be a:
- Civilian driver on the road
- Different sub-contractor working on the same project
- Maintenance, repair, or cleaning crew
- Manufacturer of equipment or chemicals
- Supplier or utility provider for your employer
When the at-fault party is established, there are several potential issues to discuss with an experienced lawyer about how a third-party lawsuit might intersect with your workers' comp claim. If your claim is paid immediately and then you sue a third party, the workers' comp insurer may use subrogation to require that a part of your compensation go towards paying them back.
Specific industries also use varying rules that can impact your recovery and should be discussed with your legal counsel. For instance, maritime employees in Louisiana, like longshore and harbor workers, are actually allowed to pursue compensation for pain and suffering as well as other types of damages normally prohibited in a workers’ comp claim. That only applies if you can prove your employer behaved negligently, however, which will require the investigation of a legal professional.
Talk to a Louisiana Workplace Accident Lawyer Today
If you were hurt on the job, you deserve the best representation possible to bring a lawsuit against the negligent party responsible for your injury. No matter what job you work or how you were injured, you need someone in your corner actively advocating for your rights and ensuring you get the full and fair amount you deserve.
We can help you handle the financial side of your recovery while you focus on returning to normal activity after the accident. Set up a consultation with the trial-ready lawyers at the Scott Vicknair law firm to discuss your injury and what steps to take next.