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your workers' comp claim can lead to other claims.

Your Workers’ Comp Claim Can Lead to Other Claims

Episode 25: Louisville workers’ compensation attorney Scott Scheynost explains how sometimes your workers’ comp claim can lead to other claims.  It’s not uncommon for an injured worker to be involved in this complicated scenario.  However, an experienced attorney can help to navigate the process and work to ensure the injured person has an opportunity to recover any and all benefits he/she may deserve.

Work-Related Injuries Involve Many Factors

Scott begins by explaining how workplace injuries often involve multiple variables that can lead to additional claims, beyond a workers’ compensation claim. 

Third-Party Claims

These can arise if you’re injured while working, by a person who isn’t a co-worker.  For instance, if you are a delivery driver or field sales rep and get into a collision.  Your company is typically responsible for the workers’ comp claim, but the at-fault driver who rear ended you is responsible for your auto accident claim. 

It’s important to understand that a third-party claim allows for other types of compensation, not provided by Kentucky workers’ compensation.  Worker’s comp has limits regarding how much you can receive and how long those benefits last.  With a third-party claim, you can also file a claim for pain and suffering.  That isn’t an option available through the workers’ comp system.  This claim can be a substantial amount, and if your attorney can prove you’ve suffered addition damages, you deserve it.

Click here to listen to Scott’s podcast episode on third-party claims.

Products Liability Claims

Let’s assume you were injured at work while operating a machine that didn’t have the proper safety guards.  You may have a products liability claim against the manufacturer of the machine. 

Slip and Fall (Premises Liability) Claims

Many jobs require people to go to other offices, plants, warehouses, etc.  If you got injured due to a slip or fall on the company’s premises, you might have an option to file a premises liability claim.  This is another example of a third-party claim.  Because you were performing normal work duties, you should be able to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer.  However, the premises liability claim would be filed against the company where you were injured.

Various Claims Can Be Filed Simultaneously

In most situations, your attorney can file these various claims at the same time.  This can be beneficial to the injured employee.  While workers’ comp benefits for the time you’re off of work can begin relatively quickly, other claims will take longer to resolve. 

Because your workers’ comp claim can lead to other claims, understand that different types of claims have different deadlines by which you need to file.  This is called the statute of limitations.  If you go beyond the specific window of time provided by the statute of limitations for the specific claim, you may not be able to file your claim.  It’s important that you discuss the timelines for each claim with your attorney.

Social Security Disability Claim

Depending upon the severity of your work-related injury, you may also have the right to file a social security disability claim.  Your social security disability insurance (SSDI) claim is for people who have met the requirements related to their work history, but now are unable to return to work.  To clarify, this is completely different from social security retirement benefits.

You can receive both workers’ compensation benefits and social security disability benefits at the same time.  There is an offset which may reduce the amount of SSDI benefits you receive, based on your workers’ comp benefits.  Your attorney will need to properly word your settlement agreements to limit this issue.  If you have separate attorneys handling your claims, you need to make sure they are coordinating.  Make sure they are both aware of the claims.

Click here to listen to Scott’s podcast episode on filing for workers’ comp benefits and social security disability benefits.

Short-term and Long-term Disability Claims

These claims are typically covered by private insurance you’ve purchased.  They may have been paid for by your employer, depending upon your compensation package.  Generally speaking, short-term disability benefits cover the first 6 months during which you can’t go to work.  Long-term disability takes over at that point.  It’s important to understand the specific language of your policy.  There’s usually a specific definition of disability and when the policy would pay the benefits. 

Many of the insurance carriers who sell these types of policies have very tight application deadlines for anyone who is applying for the short-term disability or long-term disability benefits. Scott advises people to quickly, but carefully, review the specific policy to understand the requirements for you to receive the benefits you’ve been paying for all along.  If they can avoid paying you because you missed a deadline, they win. 

If you have one of these policies and you’re able to apply for the benefits, the money and benefits may fill the gap while you’re waiting on your workers’ compensation benefits to kick in.  Social Security Disability Insurance benefits usually take much longer to begin.  Other third-party claims also take time to resolve, before any money is paid.  Getting your benefits started can help to reduce the stress, while your recovering from your injuries and trying to figure out what comes next.

No Upfront Fees – Contingency Fee Basis

Usually, there are no upfront fees involved in filing a workers’ compensation claim, a social security disability claim or the various types of third-party claims.  These are normally handled on a contingency fee basis.  The attorney fees and other expenses are paid by the client, once each claim is successfully resolved.  The short-term and long-term disability claims are contractual obligations, if you need to hire an attorney to represent you, he/she may do it on a contingency fee or hourly basis, depending upon the attorney.

Unemployment Insurance

There are times during which an injured worker may be eligible for unemployment insurance.  This could be related to your work-restrictions that resulted in your workplace injury.  It’s important to be truthful and accurate in your unemployment application.  Those documents can be obtained and used during your workers’ comp process.

Wrongful Termination Claim

Scott doesn’t handle these cases, but if you’ve been fired and it can be proven that it was related to your work injury, in some situations you may have the option of pursuing a wrongful termination claim.  This is handled similar to a civil rights case because you are being discriminated against because of the limitations resulting from your injury.

Auto Accident Claim and PIP Benefits

If you are required to drive a vehicle for work and get into an accident, this may involve a third-party claim, as discussed earlier in this episode.  However, in Kentucky we have PIP benefits (personal injury protection benefits), because we are considered a no-fault state.  Regardless of which driver was at-fault, you are automatically covered by the insurance on the car in which you were driving/riding at the time.  This typically provides up to $10,000 in coverage for medical expenses and other expenses.

Some employers who are covering the insurance on company vehicles may have decided to waive PIP coverage.  Still, if you pay the insurance premiums on the car you were driving at the time of the accident, you should still have access to PIP benefits. 

Dog Bite Claim

If you are bitten by a dog (or another animal) while performing your job-related duty, you may be able to file a dog bite claim.  This could apply to a deliver driver or sales professional.  In Kentucky, these types of injuries are usually considered strict liability claims. 

In Kentucky, it doesn’t matter if the dog doesn’t have a history of biting people.  The breed of the dog is not relevant.  You were injured and the owner is strictly liable for the damage including medical treatment and other related damages including scarring and other issues.

These claims are usually covered by a home owner’s insurance policy.  However, there are certain circumstances that could complicated it, such as if the animal’s owner is renting and may not have coverage because they don’t have a home owner’s policy.  Again, it’s important to speak with an attorney to understand your options and rights.

Now that you’re aware how your workers’ comp claim can lead to other claims, it’s not uncommon for Scott to co-counsel with others attorneys who focus in certain areas of the law.  The important step is to ask your attorney if there is a third-party element to your injury.  In fact, in the last several weeks, this has happened several times with various clients.  Third-party claims arise more often than you may think. 

Scott Scheynost Handles Workers’ Comp Cases Throughout Kentucky

Scott can handle workers’ compensation claims across the state of Kentucky.  In some cases, you may not reside in Kentucky, but maybe your job has a connection to Kentucky.  There are certain circumstances in which Scott may be able to represent you with your workers’ comp claim.

It’s important to work with an experienced Louisville workers’ comp attorney to protect your rights and the benefits you deserve, especially when you need to reopen your workers’ comp claim.

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