Workers’ compensation is designed to benefit employees who are injured at their place of employment. Victims typically have to choose between pursuing a workers’ comp claim or an injury lawsuit against their employer. However, sometimes it may become unclear if an injury lawsuit against a third party may affect workers’ comp benefits that you are already receiving. If you or a family member wants to file an injury lawsuit but are concerned about how it may affect your workers’ comp benefits, you should speak with an experienced Fayetteville AR workers’ compensation lawyer today. You should not have to tolerate the burden of suffering another injury while you are already unable to work. Ken Kieklak is here to explain whether you can file an injury lawsuit while getting Workers’ Compensation in Arkansas.
Can You Sue Your Employer for an Injury You Sustained at Work?
If you suffered an injury while you were working, you may wonder whether you should file a claim for workers’ comp or file an injury lawsuit against your employer. You usually have the right to go to court and attempt to prove that your employer was responsible for the injuries you sustained. However, in some circumstances, you may be required to file a Workers’ Compensation claim.
An employee who files for Workers’ Compensation only has to prove that they are unable to work because of an injury or medical condition that arose from a work-related accident. Workers’ compensation can be referred to as an exclusive remedy, meaning that it is the only way to receive compensation for this type of injury.
By giving up the right to sue, you get the benefit of your employer paying for work injuries through workers’ comp. Workers’ compensation will pay for necessary medical benefits and a portion of your lost wages while you are unable to work. However, your employer or their insurance company will have the right to choose a physician or medical facility that will provide your medical care.
Most employees may be required to file a workers’ comp claim because of laws set by Arkansas and the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC). However, there are some cases where Workers’ Compensation does not cover an employee’s injuries, and you can take your case to court instead:
- If you are a contractor, you may not be considered an “employee” that is eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Therefore, you can file a lawsuit against the company that hired you for your services.
- Federal employees are not covered under Arkansas’ workers’ comp program but may qualify for federal workers’ comp.
- If you were intentionally injured by an employer, you are not required to file a workers’ comp claim and can sue instead.
This is not an exhaustive list of exceptions to Arkansas Workers’ Compensation program. If you wish to know more about how Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation system works, you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer in Arkansas.
Will a Personal Injury Lawsuit Affect Your Workman’s Comp Benefits?
If you successfully filed for and are receiving workman’s compensation benefits, but you wish to file an unrelated personal injury lawsuit, you might wonder how that could affect your benefits. Your workman’s comp benefits may not be affected if you pursue a personal injury lawsuit against another person that injured you some time after you sustained a work injury. For example, if you suffered a back injury at work and received Workers’ Compensation for that injury, this will not bar you from filing a lawsuit against another individual who later injures you in a car accident.
Additionally, even if the personal injury lawsuit was related to the injury you sustained at work, you may still be able to receive Workers’ Compensation and file an injury lawsuit. For example, if a piece of equipment malfunctioned and injured you, you may be able to file for Workers’ Compensation from your employer while filing for a defective product injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the malfunctioning equipment.
In Arkansas, an employee that is injured may be entitled to receive compensation from more than one source, like their employer and a negligent third party without losing workers’ comp. benefits. However, disability benefits or other benefits may be reduced if you receive income from a lawsuit.
Discuss Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits with an Experienced Attorney
If you or a family member needs assistance with workers’ comp benefits, you should contact an experienced Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer today. Ken Kieklak understands how difficult it can be to balance your career and personal life after suffering a serious workplace injury. Ken has nearly 20 years of legal experience, and he would be proud to use that experience to represent you. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (479) 316-0438, or reach us online.