Serious injuries often happen as the result of someone being negligent. When you suffer an injury at work as a result of someone else’s negligence, what happens?
This article discusses how negligence interacts with Georgia workers compensation cases. It addresses three of the main ways that negligence can impact a workers compensation case and provides information about what happens in each situation.
What happens when I get injured at work because someone else was negligent?
The most important thing to understand is that you should receive workers compensation benefits. Workers compensation covers you for injuries while you are performing your job.
Workers compensation is referred to as a “no fault system”. This means that it should cover you when you are hurt doing your job whether the injury is someone else’s fault, your fault, or nobody’s fault.
But, does something different happen when someone else causes your injury by their negligence. Usually, when you get injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you can pursue a personal injury case. Can you pursue a personal injury case when someone else’s carelessness causes your on the job injury.
The answer to this question is, “It depends on who it is.” Certain people have immunity from a personal injury claim when you get hurt on the job. The main people who have immunity are your employer and your co-workers.
If your co-workers carelessness causes your on the job injury, you generally cannot sue them in a personal injury case. You get workers compensation instead. The same rule applies for your employer.
Who can I sue for personal injury when I get hurt on the job?
Generally, you can sue people other than your employer (and co-workers) if their carelessness caused your injuries. Some of the common situations where this occurs are:
- Car accidents – if you are driving your car doing your job and another driver is careless and causes a wreck, you can generally pursue a personal injury claim against that other driver
- Faultily manufactured products – if you are injured as a result of a product or machine that was designed or manufactured defectively, you may be able to pursue a personal injury case against the company that designed or manufactured the machine
- Faulty repairs – if another company was hired to repair a machine at your workplace and did not do the repairs correctly, you may be able to sue that company in personal injury for your injuries that were caused by the faulty repairs
These are just a few of the common situations where you might be able to pursue a personal injury case when someone else’s negligence causes your injuries. There are certainly others as well.
The important thing to remember is that this personal injury claim does not replace your workers compensation claim. You can likely pursue both the personal injury case and the workers compensation case in these situations.
What if my employer or the insurance company is negligent in handling my workers compensation claim?
I see this a lot. Here are a few examples of some common things I see:
- Your employer tells you to use your health insurance instead of filing your injury on workers compensation
- The workers compensation insurance company does not pay your weekly checks on time
- The insurance company will not give approval to the doctor’s office for the treatment you need
- The workers compensation adjuster does not tell you about deadlines, mileage reimbursement, the panel of physicians, or any other workers compensation right you have
Can you sue your employer or the insurance company for this negligence? Unfortunately, Georgia courts have currently held that you do not have a separate right to a lawsuit for this negligence.
The courts have instead said that your remedy for this negligence is in your rights under the workers compensation system. Generally, this means you can receive late penalties. Also, if you hire an attorney, a judge can choose to assess your attorney’s fees against the insurance company in certain situations. Finally, penalties can be assessed against your employer or the insurance company for failing to follow the rules.
What if a workers compensation doctor or other medical provider’s negligence causes me additional injuries?
Medical treatment for your injuries is one of the main benefits provided under Georgia’s workers compensation laws. The intent of this treatment is to get you better. Unfortunately, sometimes treatment can cause you additional harm.
When your treatment with a worker compensation doctor causes additional harm, there are two important things to know. The first is that the workers compensation insurance company remains responsible for the additional harms cause by negligent medical treatment. The rationale is that the workers compensation injury caused the additional injury by the medical provider since that additional occurred as a result of you getting treatment with the workers compensation doctor.
The second important thing to know is that you may also be able to pursue a separate case in addition to the workers compensation case. This separate case would be against the doctor or other medical provider for the negligence that caused your additional injuries. One of the most common examples of this type of case is a medical malpractice case.