Can I File a Workers’ Comp and Personal Injury Claim at the Same Time?

When you are injured at work, there is a lot to process. You’re likely wondering how you’ll pay your bills, how long you will be away from work, and how to get the medical treatment you need. Since workers’ compensation doesn’t pay the full amount of your missed wages, lots of workplace accident victims want to know if they can file a personal injury claim to make up the difference.

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury and you’re not sure what to do next, we can help. Call Thiry & Caddell at 251-351-3371 to schedule a consultation.

The Answer is Usually No

Unfortunately, in most circumstances you cannot file a personal injury claim at the same time as a workers’ compensation claim. In fact, you generally can’t file a personal injury claim at all for a workplace accident. This is due to the nature of workers’ compensation.

The workers’ compensation program was developed as a way to help employees get the compensation they deserve after an injury while still protecting employers from personal injury claims. This is particularly important for small businesses, for whom a personal injury claim could mean bankruptcy.

As part of the workers’ compensation system, workers injured at work because of an employer’s or coworker’s error cannot file a personal injury claim against them. This is true even if you can prove that your employer or coworker obviously caused your injuries. When this occurs, the only compensation you can receive is through the workers’ comp system.

Sometimes, Personal Injury Claims Are an Option

There are some circumstances in which you may be able to file a personal injury claim. In these situations, you’ll likely still start by filing a workers’ compensation claim. This program pays out more quickly and does not require proof of negligence, so it can help injured employees stay afloat while they pursue a personal injury claim.

Generally, a personal injury claim is available to an injured employee when they have a valid third-party claim. This means a claim involving someone who is not employed by their employer.

One common situation involves employees who drive between work sites throughout the day. If they are hit by a negligent driver while driving between locations, this is a work-related injury, but it also allows them to file a personal injury claim. The person at fault is not a coworker or employee, so the victim can file a claim against the other driver.

Another good example involves construction sites. While many of the workers on a construction site are employees of the same company, many companies fill in the gaps with subcontractors. Subcontractors are not employed by the injured worker’s company, so they can be held liable with a personal injury claim.

This may also be a viable option if an employee is injured by a customer or client. For example, consider a retail worker dealing with a belligerent customer. The customer gets angry and throws an item at the worker, hitting them in the head and causing an injury. The employee may have a valid claim against the customer.

When this type of situation occurs, the employee is often at risk of losing their job by filing a claim against the customer. This is why it is important to speak to an attorney.

When You Receive Funds from Workers’ Comp and a Personal Injury Claim

Note that you cannot be paid for the same expenses twice. That is to say, if workers’ compensation pays for your medical bills and then your personal injury claim also gives you money for your medical bills, you don’t get to keep the extra. Instead, workers’ compensation will typically be reimbursed for what they’ve paid you. Once their reimbursement is removed and your attorney’s fees are paid, you receive the remainder of your settlement.

Turn to Thiry & Caddell Today for the Help You Deserve

Have you been hurt at work? We understand the challenges you are facing, and we are here to help. Learn more about your legal options now by contacting Thiry & Caddell online or calling us at 251-351-3371. We look forward to setting up a consultation and helping you plan your next steps.

Top 10 Causes of Disabling Workplace Injuries

Workplace injuries are a significant source of productivity loss in the United States, costing employers and employees alike. The solution isn’t to stop paying out workers’ compensation claims, but to create safer working conditions.

Knowing common sources of workplace injuries can help you keep yourself and your coworkers safe. If you are involved in a workplace accident and you need to explore your options, we are here to help. Call Thiry & Associates at 251-351-3371 to set up a consultation.

10. Moving Machinery

Moving machinery is a major risk in many workplaces, especially in fields like manufacturing and construction. Injuries range widely in severity, from minor abrasions and lacerations to amputations and crushed limbs.

9. Running into Objects

Colliding with objects causes billions of dollars in workers’ compensation every year. This is often surprising to people, since so many collisions happen with stationary objects. In fast-paced workplaces or customer service-focused businesses that see lots of foot traffic, collisions are almost inevitable.

8. Repetitive Motions

Spanning every industry and type of employment, repetitive stress injuries are a serious source of financial loss for companies everywhere. Those who spend a lot of time taking notes, typing, performing repetitive manufacturing motions, or otherwise using smaller muscles are at risk for stress injuries. These are best treated early, so it is important for affected employees to get help as soon as they begin experiencing pain.

7. Slips and Trips

Slips that do not result in falls are another significant source of workplace injuries in the United States. This is another injury that surprises many people. However, when you slip or trip, your muscles tense in preparation for the impact. In a slipping or tripping incident, someone might grab a nearby object or person to steady themselves. All of these outcomes can lead to injuries.

6. Car Collisions

It should come as no surprise that car crashes are a common source of workplace injuries. Unfortunately, car collisions also account for a substantial amount of workplace fatalities. A number of accident types fall into this category. Construction workers may be struck by careless or inattentive drivers while on a worksite. An employee who travels between multiple locations or worksites may be involved in a crash with a third party. A commercial driver could get injured in a crash. All of these are situations that could involve workers’ compensation or a personal injury claim against a third party.

5. Poor Postures or Poses

Sitting or standing in an unsafe or abnormal posture can lead to injuries over time. Similarly, missing a step or otherwise landing in an uncomfortable way can lead to injuries because of how your weight is distributed. Consider, in the first example, someone who is crouched down for much of their workday. For the second example, imagine someone visiting a client and missing the first step as they leave. The way they land on their foot or ankle could certainly lead to injuries.

4. Falls to a Lower Level

Falls from one level to a lower level are an extremely common source of workplace injuries. This category includes, for example, falling from a ladder, falling from stairs, or falling from a lift on a construction site. Depending on the height of the higher level, injuries could range from very mild to very severe.

3. Getting Hit by Objects

Falling objects are a risk in a variety of fields. Retail and restaurant workers often suffer these injuries while restocking or shelving items, and those in manufacturing or construction are also at risk of falling object injuries.

2. Falls on the Same Level

Falling on the same level is often less dangerous than falling to a different level, but it is also much more common. Possible outcomes include broken bones, sprained muscles, and traumatic brain injuries.

1. Lifting

There’s a reason that so many workplaces have safe lifting posters all over the place—lifting is the most expensive of all workplace injuries. Using proper form and evenly distributing the load across your body can help you avoid these common injuries.

Contact Thiry & Associates Today for Help with Your Claim

Have you been injured in a workplace accident? You’re not alone. Millions of Americans sustain injuries every year, and many are mistreated by their employer or workers’ compensation insurance. Take the first step and learn more about your rights now by contacting Thiry & Associates for an appointment. Call us at 251-351-3371 or get in touch online to set up a consultation.

Common Reasons Why Workers’ Compensation Claims Are Denied

The workers’ compensation system is supposed to be easy and straightforward, so you may be shocked and disappointed when your claim gets denied. Too many companies and workers’ compensation insurance providers make employees jump through hoops to get the benefits they are entitled to.

Learn more about why your claim might have been denied, and for more personalized advice, call Thiry & Associates at 251-351-3371.

No One Saw Your Accident

Eyewitness accounts always help a workers’ compensation claim, so you may have a bit of an uphill battle if there weren’t any coworkers around when you got injured. Workers’ compensation insurance companies like to talk to eyewitnesses because this eliminates the possibility that an injury occurred away from work or was entirely falsified. If there were no witnesses to your injury, you may have to provide additional evidence of your accident.

You Waited Too Long to Report Your Injury

The longer you wait to report an injury, the more suspicious it looks to insurance providers. If you wait too long, you could even miss the legal window to report your accident, which essentially means giving up your right to workers’ compensation. Report any accidents to your supervisor right away to avoid this issue.

They Think You Lied About the Injury

If there are discrepancies about your injury or accident, they may believe that you falsified the accident. This is relatively rare, but workers’ compensation companies often consider it a big enough problem that they challenge a lot of reports. Basically, they want to avoid paying out for an injury that someone made up to get some time away from work.

They Believe the Injury Happened Outside of Work

Along the same lines, workers’ compensation insurance will often deny claims if they think an injury occurred outside of work. This does happen sometimes. If someone gets injured but does not have the money to get treatment for it, they may pretend it happened at work to get their treatment covered. If your insurance company suspects this, they may request additional medical records or require more extensive diagnostic tests to figure out when the injury started.

You Didn’t Cooperate with the Insurance Company

To get insurance to pay for your injuries and your lost wages, you do need to cooperate with their requests. That means attending a doctor they allow you to see, attending all scheduled appointments, and following all recommended care instructions. If you frequently miss appointments, ignore the restrictions put on you by your doctor, or do not take your medications, your insurance company may believe that you are drawing your injury out to take advantage of benefits.

Your Story Changed

Maybe you first told your supervisor your accident happened when you slipped and fell on a wet floor. But later, on official documentation, you say you got hurt by an item that fell off of a shelf. Small differences in a story are inevitable and are unlikely to affect your workers’ compensation claim, but if you completely change your story, expect some pushback.

The Claim Occurred After Termination

This is another reason to report workplace injuries as soon as they occur, rather than waiting until you have enough time to sit down with a supervisor. If an employee is terminated and then files a workers’ compensation claim, the insurance company is likely going to assume that the employee is trying to get revenge. Even if the claim is completely valid, you can expect the insurance company to take their time validating it and paying it out. You can avoid this issue by reporting injuries immediately.

Get the Help You Deserve with Thiry & Associates

When you get injured at work, you should be able to get access to your benefits immediately. However, if you are having issues with your employer or insurance provider, you may need to push a little harder to get the benefits you are entitled to. We can help. We know how you rely on workers’ compensation after a workplace injury, and we routinely go up against companies that take advantage of hardworking employees. To learn more about your legal options, set up a consultation now by calling us at 251-351-3371 or reaching out to us online.

Workplace Injuries: When You Can Sue Outside of Workers’ Compensation

You’ve been injured at work—what now? The workers’ compensation system was designed to allow injured workers to get the medical coverage and replacement income they need while they recover from a workplace injury. For some people, though, that isn’t enough. If it seems like a negligent party caused your injuries, you may want to hold them accountable and get additional compensation for what you’ve lost.

Learn more about when you may be able to sue for a workplace injury, and for more in-depth assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, call Thiry & Associates at 251-478-8880.

Circumstances Are Limited

First, it’s important to note that there are limited circumstances in which you can sue someone for an injury that occurred in the workplace. This is an intentional part of the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation benefits employees by allowing them to get compensation without proving someone else’s negligence, but it also protects employers from lawsuits caused by their employees’ or managers’ negligence or malice.

Some states allow employees to sue if their employer or coworker displayed egregious misconduct in causing their injury. Alabama is not one of those states. Even if you can prove that your employer should have had better safety protocols or that a coworker intentionally put you in harm’s way, you cannot sue them.

Defective Products

One circumstance that allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit for a workplace injury is a claim caused by a defective product. Consider, for example, working in a factory. The machine you’re working with has safeguards that automatically turn the machine off when something gets too close to the entrance. Your finger gets too close to the entrance as you try to turn the machine on, but the failsafe does not activate, and your finger gets crushed by the machine.

If you can prove that the machine was defective and that it was responsible for your injuries, you may have a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the product.

Toxic Substances

If our work puts you in contact with toxic chemicals or substances, you may also be able to file a claim against the manufacturer. Well-known examples include asbestos, silica, and radium. It is crucial to work with an attorney if you have been sickened or injured by a toxic substance, as it can be very challenging to prove a direct tie between exposure to the substance and your subsequent injury. This is particularly true if it’s a chemical that builds up slowly in your system before causing illness.

Third Party Claims

If a third party is involved in your injury, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against them for your expenses. This is relatively common for employees who have to drive as part of their work. Imagine you’re a social worker who drives to clients’ homes to do home checks and interviews. On the way from one house to another, a driver blows through a stop sign and T-bones your car. The car that hit you is not employed by your company or in any way related to your work, so you can file a claim against them for the losses you’ve suffered.

This also includes some premises liability cases. Consider a nurse who does home visits. She visits a client and, on the way back to her car, slips on the iced-over steps of the apartment building. Enough time has transpired between the snowfall and the appointment that the ice should have been taken care of. The nurse may have a claim against the owner of the apartment building.

This circumstance is also present on many construction sites. If your construction site employs independent contractors who are not employed by your company, you may be able to bring a claim against them if they cause your injuries.

Find Out How Thiry & Associates Can Help

Workers’ compensation is a complex area of law, and it can be difficult to know what you’re entitled to and how to get it. We can help. We know that you have obligations to meet, even if you are unable to work because of a workplace injury. We’ll assist you every step of the way in your search for compensation. Call Thiry & Associates at 251-478-8880 or reach out online to get started.