Generally speaking, an injured worker who receives workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina cannot sue his or her employer for causing a workplace accident. However, there are situations in which an injured worker may file a lawsuit and seek compensation from another party that was liable for the accident that caused the injury. These are known as third-party claims or lawsuits. By filing a third-party claim or lawsuit, an injured worker may pursue additional compensation besides the amount available from workers’ compensation benefits.
Here’s an example: ACME Construction is serving as a general contractor at a construction site in Raleigh, constructing an office building. ACME Construction hires multiple companies from throughout the Triangle as subcontractors to perform specialized tasks related to the project such as site excavation, installation of utilities, and roofing. If one of the subcontractor companies working at the job site creates hazardous conditions that cause another company’s employees to be injured, then an injured worker may be entitled to file a third-party claim against the company that acted negligently and caused the injury.
The point to emphasize here is that a third-party lawsuit must be filed against a negligent party that is not your employer or a co-worker at your company.
Filing a Third-Party Claim
Before filing a third-party claim, you should do the following:
- Visit a doctor immediately after being injured for an examination. The doctor can determine your condition and the seriousness of your injuries. Medical records can offer proof of your condition that the insurance companies can use to evaluate your claim.
- If your injuries are severe or catastrophic, you should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can determine whether you have a valid third-party claim, gather evidence to support your claim and negotiate for a fair settlement to ensure you receive proper compensation.
- The negligent party or their insurance company may contact you soon after an accident and offer a quick settlement. Do not sign anything or accept a settlement without having an attorney review it and advise you whether it is fair.