Lexington Work Injury Attorney
If you or a family member has been injured at work because of a toxic substance, defective product or due to the negligence or intentional act of a third party (such as a client, customer or contractor) you may have legal rights beyond workers compensation that could result in additional damages. If you live in Fayette County, Kentucky, or the surrounding area and think this may have happened to you, we may be able to help.
Kentucky workers’ compensation is a no-fault system where the employee doesn’t need to show fault by the employer, and normally fault by a worker isn’t a defense. If you are a covered employee and the injury or illness happened while you were working within the scope of your job, you should get benefits. The system was created to provide workers with a simple, less costly and time-consuming means to obtain benefits for workplace injuries while avoiding potentially lengthy litigation. The downside for employees is that the benefits are limited.
Although fault isn’t usually an issue for a workers compensation case, someone other than your employer may actually be at least partially at fault. This person or entity is considered a “third party,” someone other than your employer or co-worker. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit for an injury or illness that occurred on the job. This third-party lawsuit may be filed even if you qualify for workers compensation benefits if the basis for the lawsuit existed at the site at the same time.
There are many differences between Kentucky’s workers compensation claim and a third-party personal injury lawsuit, including:
- A lawsuit may result in recovery of non-economic damages, such as for pain and suffering due to the injury or illness, which are not available under workers compensation. Although there are positives with the workers compensation system, one negative is that an injured worker may have suffered severe pain and emotional trauma but can’t receive any compensation for it.
- A successful lawsuit could also result in compensation for expenses and losses not covered by workers compensation, including total wage loss (instead of just two-thirds of it), so a third-party lawsuit could make up the difference between your workers compensation benefits and what you actually could have earned but for the accident or illness. Workers compensation may not pay all of your medical expenses or out-of-pocket costs due to injuries or illness, which may be paid as a result of a successful lawsuit.
These circumstances can play out in any number of situations.
- An employee injured in a vehicle accident while driving for his or her employer may have grounds for a third-party lawsuit against those responsible for the accident. This may occur when the main purpose of the job is transportation or driving is incidental to the work, including driving from worksite to worksite or even attending work-related training or a conference. The vehicle may be owned by the employer or the employee. Through a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent third party a plaintiff may be able to obtain damages for car repairs, future lost wages due to lost work and compensation for pain and suffering.
- A worker while in the course of his or her job may be injured on property owned by a customer or client. Injuries could occur due to slipping or tripping on icy, wet or uneven sidewalks, loose carpeting or unlit or uneven stairways or due to other hazardous objects or conditions in the worksite. A lawsuit against a negligent property owner or manager, in addition to a worker’s compensation claim, may be filed. If the accident occurred while you were acting within the scope of your job and was caused by a dangerous condition on property not owned or managed by your employer, your injuries may be compensable under both legal systems.
- Employees seriously harmed by unsafe equipment may be able to sue the designer, manufacturer, distributor or seller of the equipment if it was unreasonably dangerous for its intended purpose or if they knew of the danger but didn’t properly warn your employer or its employees. Defective machines or equipment can cause serious injuries and deaths. Those working in manufacturing or construction using defective heavy machinery can suffer crushed body parts, amputations, blindness and other serious injuries.
- Construction sites can be dangerous places, especially if they are poorly managed and safety isn’t a priority. The site’s general contractor is normally responsible for on-site safety. An employee of a subcontractor may be able to file a third-party lawsuit against the general contractor if it acted negligently and a safety violation caused the injury, in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim against his or her employer.
There are many potential factual and legal issues when a workplace injury or illness occurs, and parties other than the employer may be responsible. That’s why you should also contact our office as soon as possible so we can talk about the situation, your rights, the best ways you can protect those rights and the compensation you may be able to receive, and possibly start an investigation. If you live in Fayette County, Kentucky, or the surrounding area call Carman Fullerton, PLLC at 859-971-0060 or fill out this contact form. Your future and the future of your family is at stake, so contact us today.