In the past, an employer would typically fire a worker who sustained an on-the-job injury, thus leaving the injured worker with no medical care or financial support. Reaching a verdict or settlement in a lawsuit would take months or years, and the worker had the difficult burden of proving that the employer’s negligence caused the accident.
Workers’ compensation rectified this injustice. Most Georgia employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance that provides no-fault coverage of employees injured on the job. To collect benefits, the worker does not need to prove the employer was responsible and is not penalized for contributing to the accident. In exchange, employers are granted immunity from lawsuits in most cases.
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation benefits are limited to medical treatment costs, partial wage reimbursement and disability payments. Also, to avoid increases in their premiums, employers are known to fight claims. Workers have few options for other legal recourse against an employer or negligent coworkers. One option, however, may be legal action against a third party.
You may be eligible for workers’ compensation and still have a valid claim against a negligent third party in instances such as the following:
An automobile accident — If you are driving a work vehicle or making work-related deliveries or service calls, you could sue a negligent driver who caused an accident in which you suffered injuries. Another scenario would be injury in a traffic accident caused by a negligent driver while you were engaged in roadside construction work.
Injury on a client’s property — You could sue a property owner for damages resulting from a fall from a height or slip on a wet surface if you were engaged in work at the time — for example, while performing home repairs or landscaping duties.
A dog bite on the job — The property owner owes you a duty to protect you from a vicious dog, especially if you were invited onto the premises as part of a commercial arrangement.
Equipment malfunction — If your job involves any type of equipment that malfunctions or is defective and you suffer injury as a result, you can seek damages from the manufacturer, designer, distributor or other party responsibility for its failure.