Workers’ Comp and Third Party Claims
Episode 11: Louisville workers’ compensation attorney Scott Scheynost discusses situations involving third party claims. These can occur when someone is injured on the job, but it was caused by someone who’s not a co-worker. You could have a workers’ compensation claim and another claim against the person who injured you. Let’s learn more from Scott.
Third Party Claim and Motor Vehicle Accidents
This happens when a person is driving on company time and is injured by another driver. For instance, suppose you are a delivery driver and you’re injured in a car crash or collision while driving your delivery vehicle.
Third Party Claims on Construction Sites
These happen fairly frequently. Scott gives the example of a roofer who falls from the roof because another sub-contractor moved the ladder.
Third Party Claims in a Factory
A common example involves an employee who is working but sustains an injury when the delivery guy drops off a loan on your foot or hand. Scott has handled cases in which someone was working on a piece of equipment thinking they had done a lock-out tag-out, but then another contracted maintenance worker (not a company employee) came by and plugged in the machine. Another example would be if the on-site contractor failed to properly block off a hole or other hazard and a company employee gets injured because of it.
If you’ve been involved in a third-party injury, Kentucky worker’s compensation benefits would apply, such as medical treatment, TTD benefits and permanent disability benefits. However, there’s also the claim against the third party. It might be more lucrative because it may involve a claim for pain and suffering, which is not allowed under Kentucky workers’ comp laws.
Don’t Forget to Ask Your Attorney
It’s important that the injured worker ask his/her attorney if there might be a third-party claim involved. You can’t sue your employer or fellow employees, those injury benefits are covered under workers’ compensation. Scott typically covers this issue when he speaks with a new client for the first time.
Statutes of Limitation Are Different
When an injury occurs, a legal clock begins ticking. You only have a certain period of time during which you can file a claim. That time period is called a Statute of Limitation. If you exceed that time limit, you can’t file a claim, regardless of how significant the injury is.
In Kentucky workers’ compensation, the statute of limitation is 2 years from the date of the injury (for a traumatic injury) or 2 years from the last date you received money from your temporary total disability (TTD) benefits.
In a Kentucky third party claim, there is typically a 1 year statute of limitation. This is much different from a standard car wreck, because it’s a third-party claim. Normally, you have 2 years in a car wreck, but that period is cut in half, in this situation.
If your attorney isn’t aware of it, you could miss your opportunity. Asking an attorney to file a day or so before the period expires can be very complicated or maybe too difficult to do.
If you’ve been injured due to an OSHA violation, the penalties are increase, which means your benefits may be higher. If a third party is involved, they may be exposed to punitive damages, which can also be significant.
PIP Benefits for Motor Vehicle Accidents
Scott explains that under Kentucky’s no-fault system, you may be able to file for personal injury protection benefits (“PIP”), which is another source of benefits for your injury caused by a third party.
Third Party Pain and Suffering Claims
There may be a situation in which you’ve returned to work without permanent injuries, and your workers’ comp benefits have stopped. If a third-party claim was involved, you may also be able to receive money for your pain and suffering. These funds can go a long way in helping you to recover from the financial burden of a workplace injury.
What Is Pain and Suffering?
We talk more about Pain and Suffering later in the episode, but here are some comments from that segment. While some injuries are visible, the pain related to those injuries is not. Sure, you can see a broken bone on an X-Ray, but you can’t take a photo of pain. A crushed vertebra in your back isn’t visible to someone standing near you, but the pain is still very present. It’s difficult to measure.
Your attorney should use your medical records and medications to prove the difficulty you’re experiencing. Why some don’t believe in pain and suffering, once they’ve had a significant injury, they often change their minds.
A scar on a face or other visible body part can result in a pain and suffering claim. It can cause anxiety, embarrassment and other issues for the person with the scar. Again, the claim has merit.
Do You also Have a Social Security Disability Claim?
It’s possible that you may even be able to file a social security disability claim (SSDI), related to your work-related injury. The SSDI payments also provide an important source of income.
Don’t assume that just because you were injured at work that workers’ comp is your only option. This is especially true if your injury resulted from a motor vehicle injury.
You Can Rely on Scott’s Experience
Scott Scheynost has been practiced law for over 30 years. Over 25 of those years have been in private practice, helping injured Kentucky workers. He understands where to look for additional areas of coverage or benefits based on the facts related to your injury.
Beware of Subrogation Claims
He’s also well aware of subrogation claims. These arise when another entity has a right to collect some of the money you’ve received as a settlement for your injuries. You need an experienced attorney to help you understand if you may have upcoming subrogation claims.
It Cost You Nothing to Speak with Scott
Contact Scott Scheynost at (502) 937-5287. This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice. Scott’s principal office is located at 7619 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY 40258. Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson. This is an advertisement.