Most workers comp claims are fairly straightforward in their administration. A person is injured in their workplace during the course of employment and suffers various damages (usually physical injury requiring medical assistance). The worker then files a workers compensation claim which goes through the workers compensation court process (a separate court process that is distinguished from traditional lawsuits that are heard in a civil court). Assuming all goes well, the employer will then have to compensate the injured employee in the some combination of money for medical bills and benefits. In some cases, where the employee suffers a fatal injury, the deceased worker’s family may be entitled to workers compensation death benefits. However, workers compensation with third party claims against individuals other than the employer which arise out of the same injury-causing incident can complicate things.
Third Party Claims vs. Workers Compensation Claims
What if the on-the-job injury was caused by a third party with no ties to the employee or employer? Does the injured worker have a workers compensation claim against the third party? A classic example of this is when a delivery driver gets injured in a car accident that was negligently caused by another random driver on the road during a delivery. Another example could be that when the delivery driver stepped inside a customer’s home, the customer negligently allowed their pet to bite the delivery driver, causing a dog bite injury.
The simple answer is that the third party’s negligence gives rise to a personal injury claim all on its own. It would go through the civil court process and have its own outcome that is separate from the workers comp claim. As such, the injured worker would be unable to involve the third party in his workers comp claim should he/she pursue it. The injured worker is free to pursue both the workers compensation claim with the employer and a personal injury claim with the negligent third party. However, pursuing both claims carries its own issues.
Should I File Workers Comp Claim With Employer or A Personal Injury Claim Against Third Party? Or Both?
If you think you may have both a workers comp claim and a personal injury claim against a third party arising out of the same incident, then you should discuss both options with your attorney. California workers compensation law typically allow for very limited benefits and recovery for workers comp claims. These usually include reimbursement for bills, paid sick leave, and temporary disability benefits. On the other hand, a personal injury lawsuit can result in recovery for loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and the same medical reimbursements awarded under workers comp law. San Diego attorney Steven Brian Davis is very experienced in both California Personal Injury Law and California Workers Compensation Law. Contact him now for a free, confidential consultation and recover the damages you deserve, call 1-858-451-1004.