If you were injured on the job and received workers compensation benefits, you might be wondering if you can still file a lawsuit.
As a no-fault insurance system that provides benefits to injured workers, employees generally forfeit their right to sue their employer in exchange for being eligible to receive these benefits. Still, there could be circumstances allowing you to file a lawsuit even if you already received benefits. This article explores those situations.
When You Can File a Lawsuit After Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits
To be able to file a lawsuit after receiving workers compensation benefits, another party must be fully or partially responsible for your injury or a wrongful death.
If your workplace accident was solely your fault, it was a result of your employer’s negligence, or it was purely an accident with no one to blame, you are only eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. There is no one to file a personal injury lawsuit against if you have already received workers’ compensation benefits.
However, if it can be shown that another person or company caused your injuries, you could potentially file a lawsuit against them. To illustrate, here are some examples of when you could file a lawsuit even if you received workers’ compensation benefits:
- Professional drivers: If you are employed as a limo driver, bus driver, truck driver, or otherwise drive during your course of regular duties, you could be involved in an accident caused by another driver. In this situation, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits and file a lawsuit.
- Delivery drivers: Like other professional drivers, delivery drivers can also get in a type of accident caused by someone else. Further, as they enter other people’s land, they can face a variety of dangerous situations, like hazardous property conditions, dangerous animals, etc.
- Construction workers: Many construction projects involve contractors and employees from multiple companies working together side by side. In construction site injuries where an employee from another company is involved, you can get workers’ comp benefits from your company as well as damages from the other employee’s company or the employee himself.
- Manufacturing employees: If you are working at a machine that malfunctions and injures you, you could be eligible to receive compensation from the equipment manufacturer and workers’ comp benefits.
How It Works When You File a Lawsuit After Receiving Workers’ Comp Benefits
From a logistics standpoint, your lawsuit will be independent of your workers’ comp claim. In other words, it will be a separate claim. You can certainly still file a lawsuit against the negligent party, but if you already received workers’ compensation benefits, there will be a lien placed on the settlement until you pay back the money received in workers’ comp benefits.
Why File a Lawsuit After Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation benefits are limited, and you might have additional damages not covered by this form of insurance. For example, there are caps on lost wages and other benefits that may not adequately compensate you for your damages. If another person’s negligence contributed to your workplace injury, you have a legal right to seek compensation from the responsible party.
You might file a lawsuit for your workplace injuries in the following scenarios:
- Your Indiana employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance
- Your employer’s actions leading to your injury were grossly negligent or deliberate
- You are potentially entitled to punitive damages (which are not covered by workers’ comp insurance)
Contact an Experienced Indiana Construction Accident Attorney
At Stewart & Stewart Attorneys, we help workers injured in construction accidents recover damages to compensate them for their injuries. For a compassionate, experienced law firm, contact us today at 317-827-7934 for a free consultation.