Workers’ compensation is often referred to as “the compensation bargain.” It’s basically a trade off. If you are injured on the job, you are provided immediate benefits (although limited) and, in exchange, you forfeit the right to sue your employer in court. This arrangement applies regardless of who was at fault.
Known as the Exclusive Remedy Doctrine, the only recourse for you as an injured worker in Georgia is to apply for benefits. However, despite the prohibition against suing your employer for your injuries, you may be able to sue an outside third party for benefits, like pain and suffering, not covered under Georgia workers’ comp.
Under the law, if a third party (not connected to your employer) was the cause of your workplace injury or illness, you are allowed to bring a civil suit against that party in court.
Here are a few common examples.
Auto accident injuries
A worker who drives for a living-such as a delivery driver-is injured in an auto accident caused by, for instance, a distracted or drunk driver. That worker can apply to receive workers’ comp benefits and pursue a claim against the at-fault driver for damages due to their injuries from the accident.
Injuries from defective equipment or products
A employee working in a factory or construction setting who is injured on the job from a defective product or equipment may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the equipment that caused the injury-in addition to applying for workers’ comp benefits.
Slip and fall injuries
An employee who meets outside of his or her workplace premises, to attend a business meeting or meet with a client, and suffers an injury may have a cause of action against the owner of the building where the injury occurred. A slip and fall on a walkway or parking lot or fall from hazardous steps gives rise to what’s known as a premises liability claim. So long as the employee was working within the scope of employment when injured, that worker can pursue a cause of action against the at-fault third party and receive workers’ compensation benefits.
If you’ve been injured on the job, you may have a cause of action against a third party-but it will depend on your circumstances.
Contacting a workers’ compensation attorney in your area to find out is the first step to obtaining the maximum compensation for your injury or illness.