Yes, in North Carolina, depending upon the facts of your case, you may be able to sue a third-party if they are at fault for your workplace injury.
Under North Carolina law, most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. In the event an employee suffers a workplace injury due to an accident that happens while an employee is operating in the course and scope of his or her employment, workers’ compensation benefits can provide for medical coverage and two-thirds of the employee’s salary (tax-free).
With few exceptions, workers’ compensation benefits are the only remedy for injured employees against their employer or another co-worker. That is true even if the employer or co-worker caused the accident. However, there are third-parties who may be sued in a separate, personal injury claim. For instance, if the worker was involved in a vehicular accident while working and the other, non-employee driver was at fault, the driver could be sued in a personal injury claim. Other potential third-parties include contractors, sub-contractors, independent contractors, manufacturers, and property owners.
The potential benefits of a successful third-party claim are likely to be far greater than the benefits an injured worker receives through workers’ compensation benefits. While worker’s compensation benefits are limited in scope, a successful personal injury lawsuit can result in medical coverage, all lost wages, and damages in the form of a monetary award for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. There is also the possibility of receiving a punitive damage award if there was egregious misconduct on the part of the third-party which contributed to the injury. Just remember, if the suit is successful, the worker will likely have to reimburse the employer or insurance carrier a portion of the workers’ compensation benefits he or she has received.
If you have been injured at the workplace, contact a knowledgeable NC workers’ compensation attorney today to find out what you may be entitled to.
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