No matter what your work environment is, you can have an accident that leaves you injured. Some of these accidents are just that—an accident that's no one’s fault. Other accidents are caused by the worker’s carelessness and still others are caused by employer negligence.
Regardless of the injury cause, an employee is entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are considered to be no-fault benefits, so the worker doesn't have to show he wasn't at fault to receive them.
However, when an employee is injured due to defective equipment, in a car or truck accident, or on property not owned by the employer, he or she may be able to sue a third party for negligence and receive compensation. The employer may also be entitled to some of that money.
Third-Party Liability for Work Injuries
When you suffer an accident at work, it's a good idea to determine the cause of the accident to see if you can hold a third party liable. In general, if your employer has workers’ comp insurance, you cannot sue him for an on-the-job injury, but you may be able to seek compensation from a third party.
If you're injured on faulty equipment, during a slip and fall on a dangerous surface, or through some other way, another party may be partially to blame for your injury. Some examples of third-party liability include the following:
- You're hit by another motorist while driving on company business. You would qualify for workers’ comp because you're performing work duties, but you could also sue the driver who hit you for additional compensation.
- While working on an assembly line, the machinery jams and your hand is crushed. Worker’s comp will cover your medical expenses up to a point, but the manufacturer of the machinery could also be held liable for your injuries.
- You fall from an unstable scaffold as a contractor on a construction site. Your employer should be carrying workers’ comp insurance, but the owner of the construction site may be held liable for creating an unsafe work environment.
- You're attacked and injured by a co-worker. If the incident happens at work, you'll be eligible for workers’ comp, but you can also take civil action against the person who attacked you.
It can be difficult to prove third-party liability, and it often takes a long time to settle a claim. Workers’ comp benefits will become important in the meantime, allowing you to pay your medical bills and make up for lost income if you have to miss work.
However, if you're successful in your third-party lawsuit, your employer may be entitled to a portion of your settlement to reimburse his company for the workers’ comp benefits.
Workers’ Comp Subrogation
Your employer’s worker’s comp insurance representative is likely paying close attention to any additional legal action you choose to take. If you file suit against a negligent third party, your employer will probably also file a subrogation claim. This filing will place a lien on the proceeds you get from any third-party award. The purpose of this is to recoup the losses the company experienced through your workers’ comp payout.
If you win your suit against the third party, your employer will first be reimbursed for workers’ comp benefits before you receive your settlement. This only happens when the employer files a subrogation claim. If a claim isn't filed, you'll keep the whole settlement.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at work on the job in Kansas City you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.