South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws are designed to provide injured employees with a means of recovery that is predictable and uniform. Workers' comp is a "no fault" system, meaning that your own negligence will not generally prevent you from seeking benefits. However, in some instances, another party's negligence may allow you to file a civil lawsuit in addition to your workers' compensation claim.
What is a "third party action"?
These lawsuits are known as "third party actions." Examples of third party actions include situations in which someone other than your employer or co-worker caused your injury. For instance, if you were making a delivery for your employer, and another driver struck your car after running a red light, we may be able to seek both workers’ compensation and civil benefits.
In such cases, I file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance company, and a civil claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. Your medical treatment and 2/3s of your lost wages will be paid through workers’ comp. Additionally, your workers’ compensation settlement should factor in any permanent injury. You could also receive money from the civil action for pain, mental anguish, lost quality of life, and other damages. When proceeds are recovered from both insurance companies, the workers’ comp carrier may have a “lien” (i.e. reimbursement) on the case. However, my firm works to reduce the lien as much as possible in order to maximize your total recovery.
If you have any questions about on the job injuries and civil claims, allow a lawyer rather than an insurance adjuster to answer them. For a free consultation, as well as free copies of my books, call my Columbia, SC office today at 803-790-2800. You can also reach us by filling out a brief contact form.