Third-Party Liability Claim in North Carolina
Third-Party Liability Claims in North Carolina
North Carolina workers expect workers’ compensation benefits to cover their expenses if they suffer a work-related injury or illness. Many would be surprised to learn that accepting a workers’ comp benefit actually limits their ability to obtain compensation.
North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws limit workers’ rights by preventing an injured worker from filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer if they obtain workers’ comp benefits. This could significantly hurt the worker’s or surviving family members’ ability to obtain the compensation they need to cover all of their losses.
However, there is another option. In many cases of workplace injury or illness, a third-party liability claim for additional money is possible and can be pursued.
If you or someone you love has suffered a workplace injury or occupational disease that kept them from working in North Carolina, don’t settle for less compensation than you deserve. Let Hardison & Cochran investigate third-party liability claims on your behalf.
Call us today toll-free at (800) 434-8399 or fill out our online contact form. You’ll get a response within 24 hours. We charge no fees unless we obtain money for you.
Third-Party Lawsuits after a Workplace Injury
North Carolina workers’ compensation law does not forbid lawsuits against others who may have played a role in causing a worker’s injury or illness.
Such third-party liability lawsuits, or third-party liability claims, look to some other person or entity besides the employer whose negligence or recklessness contributed to the worker’s injury.
There are many reasons why third-party liability exists for an injury suffered by an employee at a jobsite. For example:
- Car accidents – The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says two out of every five workplace injuries in 2011 were “transportation incidents.” About 57 percent involved motor vehicles on public roads. While injuries in a work-related car accident would make a valid workers’ compensation claim, the worker could also file a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the wreck.
- Faulty equipment / machinery – Hundreds of workers are injured and killed each year by some kind of contact with machinery or equipment at worksites. This includes being struck, crushed, electrocuted, burned or stuck in a machine. If the equipment or machinery can be shown to be faulty or to have malfunctioned, the worker could file a third-party lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor or supplier.
- Subcontractors / Non-employers – If the actions of subcontractors or others at a jobsite who don’t employ a particular worker create a dangerous environment, a worker can sue them if he is hurt because of them. For example, an engineer or architect on a building project could develop a faulty design or be negligent in supervising the construction.
- Property hazards – A worker could be injured on someone’s property while performing their job, such as a utility worker bitten by a homeowner’s dog or a contractor’s employee hurt on a renovation project. The injured worker could file a personal injury lawsuit against the property owner or the landlord if an identifiable hazard on the property contributed to the injury.
When a worker takes legal action against a third-party non-employer for an accident or incident that happened on the job, the third-party lawsuit is entirely separate from their workers’ compensation claim. Both can proceed at the same time.
Third-Party Liability Claims vs. Workers’ Compensation Claims
If a third-party liability claim is successful, the injured worker may be required to reimburse their employer for some of the workers’ compensation benefits the worker received. However, the compensation obtained through a successful personal injury lawsuit is likely to be significantly more than workers’ compensation would pay.
Workers’ comp benefits are limited by law to a percentage of the injured worker’s salary and according to set payments for particular injuries. They also have caps and time limitations. Also, workers’ compensation does not consider your pain and suffering or provide compensation for emotional distress.
There are no such limits to the results of a personal injury lawsuit. Compensation, or “damages,” awarded by a court or a negotiated settlement could cover all of your lost income, no matter how much money you made.
Proceeds from a third-party lawsuit can also compensate family members for loss of companionship and for the lifetime of financial support that would have been provided if the deceased had not been killed.
Finally, in some cases, punitive damages may be awarded in third-party liability claims if egregious misconduct by the defendant(s) contributed to the worker’s injury. Workers’ compensation does not assess blame and does not award punitive damages.
Contact a North Carolina Work Injury Lawyer to Discuss a Third-Party Liability Claim
Filing a third-party liability claim after a workplace injury can be a viable legal option that helps injured workers and their families. This is why it is important to discuss your case with an experienced North Carolina work injury lawyer who can fully assess your case and determine whether a valid third-party claim exists.
The work injury attorneys at Hardison & Cochran will strive to help you obtain all of the compensation you deserve if you have been hurt by a workplace accident or occupational illness. We serve injured workers across North Carolina.
If you or someone you love has suffered a workplace injury or illness, call Hardison & Cochran today toll-free at (800) 434-8399 or fill out our online contact form. We’ll respond within 24 hours and set up a free, no-obligation initial consultation.