If you are injured at work in NC by another’s negligence you may have a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury case, or maybe even both. It’s critical to understand which of these claims you may have as well as the differences between them.

Did your employer or a co-worker cause the injury?

If you are injured at work by the negligence of your employer or a co-worker then you have a NC workers’ compensation claim. This claim must be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The Industrial Commission is a government agency that makes decisions about workers’ comp claims, including whether the claim is valid, medical treatment, and disability benefits. The Industrial Commission also approves all workers’ compensation clincher settlements in North Carolina.

In North Carolina, you can not file a lawsuit against your employer in civil court because of injuries that happen because of your employer’s negligence or the negligence of a co-worker. On the other hand, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina even if you were at fault in causing the injury, or if nobody was at fault. In determining if you have a workers’ comp claim in North Carolina fault does not matter.

Did a “third party” cause the injury?

If you are injured on the job because of the negligence of a “third party,” someone who is not an employer or co-employee, then you may have both a workers’ compensation claim against your employer and a personal injury claim against the person who caused your injuries. You can and should go forward with both claims.

To recover against a third-party you have to show negligence. Generally speaking, negligence is a lack of proper care that leads to injuries. So in a civil case for negligence, unlike a workers’ comp claim, fault definitely matters. The personal injury claim should be filed in civil court. A judge will decide who should be involved in the lawsuit, what evidence can be used, and the timing of the case.

What if you have both claims?

When an employee is injured on the job in North Carolina through the negligence of another person two claims arise. First the employee may have a claim under the North Carolina workers’ compensation system. Second, the employee has a tort or personal injury claim against the negligent “third party.” It is important to pursue both claims, as they have different advantages and limitations.

The employer or their insurance company will have a lien against the third party or their insurance company for medical and wage benefits paid in the workers’ comp case (or workmans comp case as it is sometimes called). This lien can be negotiated and if necessary your North Carolina workers’ comp lawyer can go to court to have a Superior Court judge set the amount of the lien, or extinguish it all together.

For more information about third party claims or your NC workers’ comp case contact Raleigh area workers’ compensation attorney Kevin Bunn. Kevin is a Board Certified Specialist in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law. Please call or email for your free consultation.

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