Third-Party Liability in Industrial Accidents in NC

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When you have been injured on the job, you should maximize your compensation. Hopefully, you would qualify for workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries, and if there is a responsible third party, you can file a lawsuit against them, which could lead to greater compensation. Call the Gastonia personal injury lawyers at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys to get started with your legal case.

Workers’ Compensation Is Often an Exclusive Remedy

When you have been injured on the job in North Carolina, it is very difficult to sue your employer under any circumstances. When you are dealing with your employer, workers’ compensation benefits are almost always your exclusive legal remedy. Even though your goal is to file a personal injury lawsuit, it can be difficult when there is nobody else to blame for your accident.

You want to file a personal injury lawsuit whenever it is possible because you could receive:

  • Full lost wages that you were not able to earn at work (as opposed to a fraction of your earnings for a limited amount of time)
  • Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life
  • Potential punitive damages if you can prove that there was an egregious degree of fault

Your personal injury lawyer would perform a complete investigation of your accident to determine whether there is a third party, other than your employer, who you may be able to sue.

Compensation Options in Third-Party Liability Cases

You are always entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when you can prove that you suffered a job-related illness or injury. You may elect to file a claim right after your injury and should do so because you only have a limited amount of time to apply for benefits. Applying for workers’ compensation does not preclude you from filing a lawsuit against a responsible party.

The insurance company would continue to pay you benefits until the time you received a settlement or jury award. The insurance company would then be reimbursed from the proceeds of your settlement or award.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system—you can receive benefits if you were to blame for the accident or if you are unable to prove third-party negligence. Although it is certainly an option for you, it may not always be the best financial outcome for your case.

Potentially Responsible Third Parties

Your attorney may uncover evidence of wrongdoing by a third party who may be sued. You have no legal relationship with them, and they have provided you with no benefit so that they can be liable to you just like anyone else.

Third parties who may potentially be liable for an industrial accident that injured you include:

  • Third-party contractors or subcontractors who are present on the site
  • The manufacturer of defective work equipment that injured you
  • An architect or engineer who was negligent in their design of a building or structure
  • The property owner, if it was not your employer
  • Another party who exposed you to toxic substances on the job
  • A servicing company that was responsible for the maintenance of equipment

There may even be more than one responsible party for your injury. The legal rule of thumb is that you can file a lawsuit against anyone who shares in the blame for what happened to you. It would be up to the responsible parties or a court to allocate liability between the third parties.

Gathering Evidence of Third-Party Liability

To win a lawsuit against a third party, you need to prove they were negligent. In a personal injury case, negligence means that someone did something that would be considered unreasonable under the circumstances. You have the burden of proof to present evidence that shows that the third party acted unreasonably. Without this proof, you would not be entitled to financial compensation.

Your lawyer may gather the following evidence that could help prove that someone else was to blame:

  • Witness testimony from people who saw the accident
  • Physical evidence, including the actual machine that malfunctioned
  • Test readings that show the conditions in a plant
  • Expert witness testimony giving an opinion about what caused the accident
  • Pictures of the scene of the accident
  • Video camera footage of the accident

The investigation must be extremely thorough when you are suing a third party, as your case needs to pass over a certain bar for it to proceed through the court system and survive any motion to dismiss.

What To Do if You’re Involved in an Industrial Accident

If you have been involved in an industrial accident, it is essential that you obtain the medical care you need to have your injuries diagnosed and treated. Before you can file a claim, you need to know the full extent of your injuries so you know how much compensation to seek. You should then contact an attorney who can launch an immediate investigation and represent you in a potential lawsuit. Timing is of the essence because you only have a limited amount of time to gather the evidence that you need to prove liability.

Contact a Gastonia Industrial Accident Attorney Today

If you have been hurt on the job, you need legal representation as you pursue any type of compensation that you deserve under North Carolina law. The lawyers at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys know how insurance companies and defendants work, and we know their tactics. You need to get us on your side as soon as possible to protect yourself to the fullest extent. To schedule a free initial consultation, you can send this message online, or you can call us today at 910-405-7751.

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