When you are injured in a work-related accident, you normally open a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. In South Carolina, the workers’ compensation system is an exclusive remedy, which means that this is the only method you can use to take legal action against your employer for any injuries that occur on the job.
However, there are limited scenarios where you can pursue a lawsuit against a third party for their negligence which contributed to the injury you sustained. Filing a third-party claim in connection with a workers’ compensation injury can be complex. It’s best to speak with a South Carolina personal injury lawyer who has experience with workers’ compensation cases.
Pursuing a Third-Party Personal Injury Claim
Workers’ compensation benefits may provide reimbursement for your medical expenses, but they do not cover you for pain and suffering, nor do they cover punitive damages when someone intentionally harmed you or was reckless. If you had any property damage, workers’ compensation won’t cover that either. In regard to loss of earnings, workers’ compensation only covers up to two-thirds of your total wages, and even then, it doesn’t kick in until you’ve missed seven days of work.
Pursuing a personal injury claim will allow you to potentially recover the full amount of your lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. In order to pursue a third-party claim, you need to show that:
- The alleged at-fault party owed you a certain duty of care;
- The third-party breached this duty;
- The actions or omission of the action was the cause of your injuries; and
- You suffered damages as a result of the omission or actions.
Potentially Liable Parties in Third-Party Workplace Claims
The potentially liable parties will vary based on your individual situation, type of job, circumstances surrounding the accident, etc. Some examples of potentially liable parties you could file a third-party workplace claim against include, but are not limited to:
- Drivers: If you are driving for work and your injuries are caused by another driver, that individual could be liable for your injuries and damages.
- Project Managers or Non-Employee Supervisors: If you’re on a construction job site, there could be a number of project managers supervising. If one of these non-employees caused your injuries, you may be able to sue this person.
- Defective Equipment Manufacturers: Some jobs may require you use dangerous equipment. If the equipment malfunctions or is defective, you may be able to sue the manufacturer, distributor, and/or seller of the equipment or product.
- Contractors and Other Vendors: Outside contractors and vendors who are not employees could be held liable if the company had a role in causing your injuries.
Retaining a South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney
In most cases, you can pursue a third-party claim against the at-fault party while still pursuing workers’ compensation benefits. However, it’s still best to speak with a knowledgeable South Carolina personal injury attorney first. You do not want to do anything to jeopardize your workers’ compensation benefits. If you have questions or need assistance with a third-party workplace injury claim, contact the Elrod Pope Law Firm at 803-599-3080 to schedule a consultation.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.