Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | November 9, 2021
The vast majority of employers in Georgia are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. If you have been injured in an on-the-job accident in our state, you have the right to seek compensation for your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages. You can do so by filing a claim to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
Accidents that justify workers’ compensation benefits can occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are just random occurrences. In other instances, they happen because someone was negligent.
Do you suspect your accident could have been avoided if your employer had not been careless? If so, you might wonder whether you have the additional option of suing them in addition t
You almost certainly do not. However, that doesn’t mean filing a workers’ compensation insurance claim is the only way you can recover compensation after a work-related accident.
Why Suing Your Employer After an Accident in Georgia is Not an Option
Again, Georgia law requires most employers to buy workers’ compensation insurance. The only employers who do not need to purchase workers’ compensation insurance have very few employees.
This highlights why suing your employer after an on-the-job accident is usually not an option in our state. Some states allow employers to choose whether to buy workers’ compensation insurance. An uninsured employer in one of those states can be sued by an injured worker.
This is not the case in Georgia. While your employer’s negligence may have contributed to your injuries, that doesn’t grant you legal grounds to sue them. Workers’ compensation grants you automatic benefits in the event of an on-the-job injury. In exchange, you give up the right to sue your employer.
This is frustrating to some. Many are often unhappy they can’t sue their employers since workers’ compensation benefits are limited.
For example, in some types of personal injury cases, victims can seek compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation will not cover these damages. Workers’ compensation benefits will typically only compensate you for basic economic losses. These may include medical bills and some lost wages if your injuries kept you away from work.
Once more, this is not meant to suggest you can never recover compensation for non-economic damages after a work-related accident in Georgia. Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to sue a negligent party that isn’t your employer.
Suing a Negligent Third Party After a Work-Related Accident
Your employer is not the only one whose negligence may cause an accident at your workplace. For example, maybe your job frequently involves working on ladders. Perhaps you were injured in an accident resulting from ladder failure of some kind.
This might have happened because the ladder’s designers or manufacturers failed to notice a defect. This type of negligence can give you justification to file an additional claim or lawsuit against the manufacturer. Thus, you can pursue more compensation than just workers’ comp.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming a third-party suit will always be an option after an on-the-job accident. You need to show that your accident would not have happened but for a third party’s negligence. Doing so will require conducting an investigation and gathering evidence to prove negligence.
This is one of many reasons you should consider reviewing your case with a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney before filing a claim. At the very least, they can negotiate with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer on your behalf. This will improve your chances of reaching a fair settlement.
They can also investigate your accident. Their investigation may yield the evidence you need to justify taking further legal action against another party.