Depending on your situation, you can sue a third party for a workplace injury if you already have workers’ compensation benefits. In most cases, you may not be able to sue your employer directly. Personal injury compensation is typically possible when the third party’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident that injured you.A lawyer can explain the details of building both cases and recovering all appropriate benefits and damages. Since a personal injury case is based on the at-fault party’s negligence, it adds a new legal dimension to your case. Your lawyer will investigate the cause of your accident, prove the legal elements of negligence, and pursue appropriate compensation.
Know When Your Worker’s Compensation Case Is Also a Personal Injury Case
It can be hard to determine what kind of case you qualify for. A personal injury lawyer in your area will examine the details of the incident—usually at no cost—and explain the compensation options you have available. Examples of what could have happened include:
- A work-related car accident where the other driver was at fault
- Injuries you sustained at work by flawed or faulty equipment
- You were injured falling off of scaffolding that was defective
These are only examples, and this list is in no way exhaustive. A personal injury attorney will represent you after any negligence-based accident and explain how you can build both cases.
Your Lawyer Will Document Your Right to Personal Injury Compensation
Your workers’ compensation claim is based solely on your injured status, regardless of how you got hurt. When you are also pursuing a third party for a workplace injury, you must prove the legal elements of negligence.
A personal injury lawyer will do this task for you by proving:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of reasonable care.
- Their actions constitute a breach of their duty to you.
- Your accident would not have occurred without their action.
- Your subsequent injuries had negative financial and intangible impacts.
If your employer does not have or is not required to carry workers’ comp insurance, you might be able to file a personal injury claim against them. Your lawyer will inform you of whether this option is available.
Evidence Your Lawyer Will Compile to Build Your Case File
Personal injury cases rarely go to court. Instead, most settle out of court once the evidence is reviewed. To document the at-fault party’s fault and liability, the evidence they collect may include:
- Medical records that prove the cause and severity of your injuries
- Accident and incident reports that prove the accident’s cause and contributing factors
- Photos of your injuries and the accident scene, including accident reconstruction reports
- Statements from coworkers, lay and expert witnesses, and consultants
A portion of your case file will contain proof of the accident’s financial impact, which may include:
- Medical bills that prove their known and anticipated costs
- Employment and salary history records that prove your lost income
- Property repair and replacement estimates, bills, and values
The law firm that represents you will not tax you or your family with tracking down the evidence you need. Their legal team will handle the investigation from start to finish, including evidence collection for you.
Compensation You Can Recover by Filing a Personal Injury Case
Your workers’ comp claim will help you recover specific benefits, but you could also be entitled to additional compensation. By filing a personal injury case, you can recover the following damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future income loss
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Diminished property value
- Disability and disfigurement
- Wrongful death damages, if applicable
Recovery through a worker’s comp case is somewhat limited in the scope of damages. Your personal injury lawyer can demand some forms of compensation you cannot recover via your workers’ compensation claim, including:
- Property damage
- Total property loss
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
No two personal injury cases will have identical recoverable damages. A lawyer can clarify the range of damages you can recover from a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit.
Medical and Financial Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The workers’ compensation benefits you receive will compensate you for two-thirds of your average weekly salary for the time you cannot work, per the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). This compensation starts after you have been off work for a minimum of seven days.
You will also receive all required medical care at no cost to you, with your medical benefits starting immediately. Eligible family members will also receive death benefits for the loss of a loved one in a work-related accident.
Your Personal Injury Case Has a Statute of Limitations
In California, you usually have two years to file a personal injury case, per CCP § 335.1. However, the DIR explains that you only have 30 days to file a workers’ compensation claim. Still, it can be hard to effectively manage the timing of both cases on your own. Your lawyer can:
- Clarify the applicable statute of limitations
- Explain how and when it might fluctuate
- Work hard to meet all relevant deadlines
Your lawyer will also explain the importance of getting started on the personal injury portion of your case sooner rather than later. They can clarify the consequences of an expired deadline and fight hard to avoid its costly consequences.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation for Your Workplace Injury Case
You can sue a third party for a workplace injury even if you already have workers’ compensation. Doing so without legal guidance and support can be a challenge, so allow our law firm to help you demand all the damages you are entitled to recover. Learn more about your right to compensation and your ability to file both cases by contacting KJT Law Group at (818) 507-8525 today.