Workplace injuries affect thousands of California residents each and every year. When an on-the-job injury occurs, a worker has the right to seek compensation. A personal injury attorney can help you to understand the methods for recovering damages after an accident.
The Difference Between a Workers’ Compensation Claim and a Civil Action
There are two ways in which an injured worker may be able to recover compensation after a workplace accident: through a workers’ compensation claim, or through a personal injury claim, often referred to as a third-party action. While the former recovery option is almost always allowed (assuming that the worker is covered under workers’ compensation insurance), the former is only allowed in the event that a person outside of the workplace caused the injury. Lawsuits against an employer are not allowed; lawsuits against a negligent third party are. Furthermore, a workers’ compensation claim is filed with a workers’ compensation insurance company, whereas a lawsuit is filed directly against the at-fault party in civil court. These two claim types are also different in the damages that they yield.
Who Might Be Liable in a Third-party Action?
Again, you cannot sue an employer for a workplace injury unless the injury was a result of an employer’s egregious and intentional conduct, which is rare. However, if a third party caused your injury, you may file a lawsuit directly against this third party. Example of third parties who may be held liable for a worker’s harm include:
- A property owner who failed to maintain the property in a safe condition, causing an injury;
- The driver of vehicle that hit an employee during the course of his or her employment;
- The manufacturer or distributor a defective piece of equipment; or
- The manufacturer of a defective and dangerous substance, such as a toxic chemical.
Damages Available for a Workplace Injury
A workers’ compensation claim and a civil action are also different in the types of damages that they make available to the injured party. In a workers’ compensation claim, damages available typically include:
- Medical benefits;
- Lost wages/disability benefits;
- Specific loss benefits; and
- Death benefits.
A civil suit, on the other hand, yields damages for all of the economic losses above, but can also result in damages for mental anguish and physical pain and suffering. Exemplary damages, or damages designed specifically to punish the defendant, may also be available when there is clear evidence that the defendant caused the plaintiff harm maliciously.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
It is extremely important to note that in some cases, a worker may be able to recover benefits through both a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party liability claim. To understand when this is possible and the amount of benefits recoverable, a consultation with a personal injury attorney is key.
If you have been injured on-the-job, do not wait any longer to meet with a legal professional. The experienced San Diego personal injury attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP are happy to speak with you over the phone or in person today. To contact us, call 858-350-8855 now.