Suffering an on-the-job injury in North Carolina can lead to expensive medical bills and lost wages from having to take time off work. Whether you know who caused your injuries or not, you could recover financially through the state's workers' compensation system.
What most injured workers do not know is that another legal remedy may exist - filing a third-party lawsuit. A third-party lawsuit is a personal injury claim based on negligence against any party other than the employer. If you have grounds for a third-party lawsuit, you could be eligible for recovery outside of workers' compensation.
Defining "third party"
In a workplace injury claim, a third party refers to any person or entity other than your employer. A third party could refer to a coworker, property owner, product manufacturer/distributor, driver or subcontractor. Anyone involved in your accident or injury who is not your employer could become a third party in a personal injury lawsuit.
Lawsuit vs. workers' compensation claim
In North Carolina, one of the simplest ways to obtain financial recovery after a workplace injury is by filing a workers' compensation claim. You typically do not have to prove anyone else's fault to obtain compensation for your medical bills and some lost wages through workers' comp. If you wish to recover the costs of additional damages, however, you will need to file a third-party lawsuit.
A successful third-party lawsuit could result in payment for 100% of your lost wages, plus medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and wrongful death damages. You could also receive punitive damages in some cases.
Proving third-party liability
To have a successful third-party suit, you or your attorney will have to prove to a judge or jury that the defendant caused your injuries. This will take establishing duty, breach of duty, causation and damages. North Carolina laws allow you to recover through both workers' compensation and a third-party claim for maximum financial relief.