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Personal Injury

Suing Liable Third Parties After a Workplace Injury

September 16, 2019

In General, Workers’ Compensation Act Provides Benefits for Work-Related Injuries

The Montana Workers’ Compensation Act (MWCA)  provides for the recovery of certain, specified benefits, including:

  • Reimbursement of a percentage of the injured employee’s lost wages;
  • Payment of medical bills associated with the work-related injuries; and, in some cases,
  • Payment of permanent injury benefits if the injured employee does not fully recover from the effects of the injury.

It is important to remember that, generally speaking, the injured worker may not sue the employer for additional damages, even if the employer was at fault in causing the work-related injuries (there is an exception for intentional wrongs committed by the employer or its representatives). Typically, the injured employee is entitled to the benefits listed above even if he or she was partially at fault in causing the accident or other incident leading to injury. Based upon the complexity of the rules, it is usually in the interests of the injured employee to seek the advice of a skilled Billings personal injury attorney.

Injured Workers May Seek Damages From Negligent Third Parties

Even though the injured employee may not recover additional damages from the employer, he or she may generally seek and recover damages from a third party whose negligence led to or contributed to the employee’s work-related injury. Recovery against such a negligent third party is generally governed by the same law and rules that come into play products liability cases and claims involving auto crashes. An experienced Billings personal injury attorney can be an invaluable resource in helping an injured employee understand his or her options.

Important Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Recovery and Recovery for Third-Party Negligence

Recovery of damages for a third party’s negligence and recovery of workers’ compensation benefits following a work-related injury are not synonymous. While the following is not an exhaustive list, be aware of the following:

  • Fault is typically not an issue in workers’ compensation matters; it is very much an issue in a third-party negligence suit. The injured employee’s third-party recovery may be reduced and sometimes even eliminated if the employee was substantially at fault in causing the accident that lead to the injury.
  • In the workers’ compensation setting, the injured employee generally recovers only about two-thirds of his or her lost wages. In a negligence suit, one can recover the full measure of lost wages.
  • In the workers’ compensation setting, pain and suffering generally are irrelevant. No so in the third-party negligence suit; the injured party often may recover for such pain and suffering.
  • Although the rules for this issue are quite complex, the employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company that paid out workers’ compensation benefits may be able to seek reimbursement from the injured employee for some or all of that outlay.
  • Where the injured employee has sustained permanent injuries and may require long-term medical care, the complex interests associated with the employee’s potential Social Security disability status may need to be considered.

Get Experienced, Caring Legal Counsel From Our Billings Personal Injury Attorney

When it comes to seeking damages from a third party who has negligently caused or contributed to a work-place injury, the issues are complex and the stakes are quite high. In most cases, the injured individual will quickly determine that he or she cannot maneuver the legal maze alone. You need not handle things on your own. You owe it to yourself to get the assistance and skill of an experienced law firm like the Billings personal injury attorneys at Ragain & Clark, PC.


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