An employee who sustains a work-related injury in North Carolina generally cannot sue his or her employer for causing a workplace accident. This is based on a statute, N.C.G.S. § 97-10.1. Typically, workers’ compensation benefits are the sole remedy to address workplace injuries. Nearly all businesses with three or more employees in North Carolina are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Employees who are injured while performing their job duties may claim paid medical treatment and wage replacement benefits through the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
However, there are some special scenarios in which an injured worker may get around N.C.G.S. § 97-10.1 and sue someone else who was at fault for the accident that caused their injuries.
An attorney who is knowledgeable in both workers’ compensation and personal injury law can review the circumstances of your workplace injury and discuss the appropriate steps to take. If you are eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim, a lawyer at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks can help you submit a claim and navigate the process. The North Carolina Industrial Commission handles NC workers’ compensation claims and disputes that arise from them.
Keep reading to learn more about the rights of injured workers and how a North Carolina workers’ comp and personal injury attorney can help.
When Can You Sue After an Injury on the Job?
Because of N.C.G.S. § 97-10.1, in most cases, a worker who suffers an injury on the job cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. This provision of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act bars injured workers from suing their employer and limits their remedy to receiving workers’ compensation benefits. An injured employee may receive workers’ compensation medical benefits without regard to who caused a work-related accident.
An injured worker may have a right to sue a third party (other than their employer or co-worker) who acted negligently and caused an accident leading to their workplace injury.
Let’s consider a hypothetical example. John Smith, a delivery truck driver, is an employee of ACME Package Delivery. While making deliveries throughout the Triangle, John Smith’s delivery truck is struck by a motorist who ran a red light and hit the side of the delivery truck. John Smith sustained serious injuries in the crash and will miss several months of work.
John Smith was performing his job duties when the accident occurred. Therefore, he is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits such as paid medical care and replacement of two-thirds of his gross lost wages while he is recovering from his work-related injuries. In this case, he may also have a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver who ran the red light and caused the accident. By pursuing a third-party injury claim, John Smith may pursue compensation that workers’ compensation does not cover, such as compensation for pain and emotional distress and future medical expenses. An important reminder here is that he is not suing his employer or a co-worker. The negligent party is another driver not employed by ACME.
Types of Employer Negligence
Here are a few rare circumstances in which an injured employee may have a negligence claim.
- An injured employee may have a right to sue if their employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance.
- An injured worker may sue if the employer intentionally injured them.
- An injured employee might have a right to file a REDA CLAIM if the employer retaliates against the employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Under that law, an employer may not take adverse employment actions against a worker because the worker filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Generally, employers must provide safe workplaces for their workers. That includes taking reasonable steps to keep the workplace free of foreseeable hazards and providing workers with the equipment necessary for them to complete their job tasks safely.
How Can A Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help with Your Case?
Our knowledgeable personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks can review the circumstances of your serious injury and determine your legal options for seeking financial recovery. In most workplace accident cases, a workers’ compensation claim is the only option available. If your employer disputes your right to workers’ compensation coverage, our attorneys can help you seek the benefits available for your injuries. Our personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers may take the following steps:
- Investigate the circumstances of the workplace accident and workplace injuries
- Evaluate your legal options free of charge to determine your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits
- Document your work-related injuries and losses to help you pursue the compensation available under North Carolina law
- File your workers’ comp claim on your behalf and communicate with your employer, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, and other parties
- Help you file an appeal with the North Carolina Industrial Commission if your claim has been denied and guide you through the workers’ compensation system
- Evaluate whether the facts of your work-related injury provide you a basis to file a personal injury claim against someone other than your employer or a co-worker.
Get in Touch with Our Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you have suffered injuries in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim to cover your medical bills and lost income. A personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyer with Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. can help you explore your legal options for seeking medical benefits and the financial relief available. Our legal team takes pride in the legal representation we provide to the injured people who turn to us for help. We will do everything possible to care for you during this challenging time. Let us navigate the legal process so you can focus on fully recovering.