Workers’ Compensation Claims And Third Party Liability

When someone is injured on-the-job under Georgia law they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits will provide minimal payments for lost wages as well as reimbursement of any medical expenses arising out of the on-the-job injury. In exchange for these statutory benefits the employee may never sue the employer responsible for the on-the-job injury. In short, even if an employer is negligent and/or creates an unsafe situation for an employee, the employer cannot be sued, instead as a tradeoff for not being sued, the employer must provide workers’ compensation benefits which provides lost wage benefits and the reimbursement of medical expenses.
Even though employers in Georgia have immunity from lawsuits for negligence which results in injuries to employees, nonetheless, if a third party is involved in such negligence, under certain circumstances, that third party may be liable for the employee’s injuries.
A hypothetical might illustrate the point we make here. If an employee of a warehouse company is injured by a trucker who is backing his truck into the dock and inadvertently runs over the warehouse employee, even though the warehouse employee has been injured on-the-job, they have not only a workers’ compensation claim against their warehouse employer but they also have a third party liability claim against the trucking company employee that caused their injury. Thus, in some limited circumstances, depending upon the unique facts involved, an injured employee may have not only a workers’ compensation claim against their employer but also a claim against a third party. This can be important because workers’ compensation benefits are quite limited, particularly with respect to lost pay and there is no compensation under the workers’ compensation statutory scheme for pain and suffering at all. In cases where the injuries are very serious, there should be compensation for pain and suffering and thus a third party claim may be one avenue by which the injured employee can obtain some measure of justice for these damages.
In any serious on-the-job injury, the injured victim should consult with counsel to determine their rights to workers’ compensation benefits. They should also explore the possibility of whether a third party liability claim is present. If a third party is involved in the negligent act which results in the injury, there may be an additional avenue available for relief to the victim by way of liability insurance as opposed to the limited workers’ compensation benefits currently available under Georgia law.

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