Hurt on the Job Due to the Negligence of Another?
You may have seen prior articles which explain your rights if you are hurt on the job… As explained, when you are injured in the course of your employment, you are entitled to reasonable, necessary and curative medical care, as well as temporary disability benefits while the authorized doctors indicate that you are still receiving medical care and unable to return to your job. You may also be entitled to a payment for any permanent disability arising out of your injury.
In the event that your injury was caused by the negligence of another, you may also be entitled to a third party action in Superior Court. However, if the negligence was that of your employer or another co-employee, your only option is to pursue your rights pursuant to the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act. You cannot pursue an action against a co-employee or your employer for negligence. In that regard, if you are negligent, and a work related injury occurs, you may still be entitled to the same benefits as if no negligence occurred.
However, if your injury is caused by a third party, outside the parameters of your employment, you may pursue an action against that third party. For example, in the event that you drive as a specific duty in your employment, and are involved in a motor vehicle accident due to the fault of another driver, you may still pursue an action against the other driver. Such claim is governed by the controlling motor vehicle insurance coverage.
As you may be aware, when involved in a motor vehicle accident, your own personal injury protection insurance pays for reasonable and necessary medical care. Contrarily, if the motor vehicle accident is work related, the workers’ compensation carrier of the employer controls and provides medical treatment in accordance with the governing statutory and case law.
In New Jersey, there is a strong public policy against double recovery for the same accident or injury. In that regard, in the event that you are successful in a third party action against a negligent party, the workers’ compensation carrier may be entitled to a credit for a portion of the monies paid on your behalf.
As you can see, this can become very complex. It is important to seek the advice of experienced counsel when investigating your rights and obligations in such a situation. Note, attorney’s fees in both workers’ compensation and personal injury actions are paid on a contingency, in that the attorney is only paid a fee for services if successful on your behalf.