Workers' compensation claim or third-party lawsuit -- or both?

While workers in Oklahoma may find comfort in knowing that their employers carry insurance to cover their medical expenses and lost wages in the event of on-the-job injuries, they may not realize that some claims for benefits are rejected. Also, workers' compensation typically pays for medical expenses and only a portion of lost income, which in many cases only cover a fraction of the financial losses. The insurance system does not compensate workers for future medical expenses and income losses, nor does it cover emotional damage such as pain and suffering.

It is a no-fault system by which workers are promised coverage for all on-the-job injuries -- regardless of who was at fault. However, there are limits to the coverage provided, and if the benefits do not cover all the costs, or if there is no compensation, the victim might have grounds to pursue a lawsuit in addition to the benefits claim. Another instance in which an injured worker may pursue legal action is when it can be shown that the workplace injury resulted from gross negligence by the employer.

An injured worker might have grounds to file a third-party lawsuit against a manufacturer if a defective tool or piece of equipment caused a workplace injury. Such a claim may also be filed if an employee of another company caused a worker's injury. An example is a worker who gets knocked down by a delivery truck driver from another company.

While a worker may be entitled to file a third-party claim, it's best to discuss the issue with an experienced Oklahoma workers' compensation attorney first. A lawyer can assess the circumstances and determine the viability of a civil lawsuit. The attorney can assist in pursuing maximum benefits. 

Source: FindLaw, "Workers' Comp or Lawsuit? 3 Considerations", Brett Snider, Accessed on May 24, 2018

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