A sudden injury at work not only throws off you and your family’s routine, it can set you back considerably. It may devastate your savings, reduce your potential earnings, and, without any type of compensation, it can put you on the road to bankruptcy. However, there are ways to avoid such a disastrous outcome. When you are hurt in a work-related accident, you likely have workers’ compensation insurance, which can help with your medical expenses and lost wages. Additionally, if another person that is unaffiliated with your employer was responsible for the accident, you may be able to bring a third-party lawsuit. Seeking compensation from the at-fault party can help you obtain justice and help you recover financially.
With offices in Plover and Marshfield, Studinski Law, LLC serves injured worklers across Wisconsin, including Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, and Waupaca. For more information on third-party lawsuits after work-related injuries, call (715) 343-2850 to speak with the Wisconsin personal injury lawyers at Studinski Law, LLC.
Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation
When you are injured in a work-related accident, your primary avenue for medical care and financial benefits is through the Wisconsin workers’ compensation system. As long as your employer purchases workers’ compensation insurance, you have somewhere to turn. Once you notify your employer of your injuries and it in turn notifies the insurer, all appropriate and necessary medical care for your injuries should be covered.
You may also be eligible for:
- Wage loss benefits
- Temporary partial or total disability
- Permanent partial or total disability
- Loss of earning capacity
- Vocational training
Prohibition on Suing Your Employer
Workers’ compensation is a trade-off. Your employer takes responsibility for your injuries and purchases insurance in exchange for having reduced legal liability. Once you move forward with a workers’ compensation claim and begin receiving benefits, you no longer have the right to sue your employer. Yet, there are a couple of exceptions. You may have the right to sue your employer when it does not carry workers’ compensation insurance as required by law or when it wrongfully denies your workers’ compensation claim. However, these situations are rare. You are much more likely to have a legal claim against someone outside of your work.
If a person from outside of your work is part of or the entire reason for your injuries, then you have the right to hold this third-party responsible. A third-party can be a pedestrian who came into your building or onto your work site. If a person came into your work environment and carelessly, recklessly, or intentionally causes the accident that hurt you, then you may have the right to file a personal injury claim against them.
The third party may also be someone you worked side-by-side with, but who was employed by a separate company. In this situation, you may sue the individual and/or their employer. The prohibition against suing your employer during a workers’ compensation claim does not extend to other businesses and employers.
The Workers’ Comp Process Differs From a Third-Party Claim
After a work-related injury, you can obtain workers’ compensation benefits by informing your employer of the accident and your injury. Typically, this means telling a manager or supervisor within 30 days of the injury or when you were diagnosed with the condition. The sooner you inform the business, the better. Once your employer has actual knowledge of your injury, then it has seven days to notify the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
If for some reason you run into an obstacle in obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, you dispute the issue with the Workers’ Compensation Division, a part of the Department of Workforce Development. The process of defending your right to workers’ comp benefits is administrative. You may attend hearings or mediation, but you will not go to court except in a few circumstances. You may eventually appeal up to your local circuit court or you may have a cause of action against your employer.
However, a third-party claim is different. If another individual or business is at fault for your injuries, speak with an experienced work injury attorney right away. You may need to file a third-party insurance claim or file a lawsuit. A third-party insurance claim will involve a formal letter to the other person or business’s insurer. You will then have to cooperate with that insurer’s investigation of the accident. If your claim is approved, then you may accept a settlement offer or negotiate for a higher amount. If it is denied, you will need to use the insurer’s appeal process or file a lawsuit.
In many work-related accidents involving third parties, you will need to file a personal injury claim in court. Your suit may be based on allegations that the other party was negligent, intentionally harmful, or strictly liable for your injuries. During the suit, you will use the discovery process to gather information from the other party and build your case. If you are unable to negotiate a settlement prior to trial, then you will have to present evidence during trial that the other party’s carelessness, recklessness, or voluntary actions caused you harm.
Call Our Wisconsin Personal Injury Lawyers for Advice
It can be difficult to know what to do after suffering an injury at work. You may wonder: is your employer responsible, or is someone else at fault? How do you file a workers’ compensation claim? Can you sue someone, and if so should you? At Studinski Law, LLC, we can help you answer these questions and more. Call us today at (715) 343-2850 to schedule a time to talk about workers’ compensation and third-party liability.