If you experienced an injury while completing your job duties, you have a right to seek workers’ compensation to cover your medical care and lost wages. But what happens if your coworker was responsible for your accident?
A Virginia workplace injury lawyer can examine the details of your case and devise a strategy to approach a workers’ compensation claim when a coworker was at fault. Here is what you need to know about fault and workers’ compensation in Virginia.
Does Fault Matter in a Virginia Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Virginia uses a no-fault system for workers’ compensation. This system enables employees to seek workers’ compensation for any accidents that occur while at work or while completing job duties — regardless of who was at fault.
Let’s imagine that you are a roofer who was working on a steep roof. Your coworker accidentally moved the two-by-four you were standing on, causing you to fall off the roof. In this case, it doesn’t matter that your coworker directly caused the accident; the workers’ compensation process is still the same.
Workers’ compensation covers all workplace accidents, even if you were responsible for your own injury or a coworker’s negligence caused the accident.
Can You Sue a Coworker for a Workplace Injury?
You may wonder: can you sue your coworker for additional damages on top of your workers’ compensation?
Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, in general, you can’t hold anyone directly or personally liable for the accident when you seek workers’ comp. Claims that are eligible for workers’ compensation cannot be pursued by filing a lawsuit against your employer. This policy exists to protect employers from financial harm when accidents occur.
Should You File Suit Instead of Seeking Workers’ Compensation?
While you can’t file a lawsuit against your coworker and submit a workers’ compensation claim, you may decide to take legal action instead of or at the same time as pursuing a claim of workers’ comp.
This decision depends on the circumstances of your work-related injury. Many victims of job injuries find it easier and less stressful to just submit a workers’ compensation claim and seek compensation that way. You won’t have to spend time proving that someone was directly responsible for the accident.
If your work-related injury was the result of a third party’s negligence, you may be entitled to pursue a claim through a lawsuit while still collecting workers’ compensation. The third party cannot be a co-worker or your employer.
Through a lawsuit, you could seek additional compensation outside of your medical bills and lost wages. You could also seek non-economic damages, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
A lawsuit doesn’t always make sense for work-related accidents. You’ll need a Virginia workplace injury lawyer to advise you on whether this claim would be worth the time and expense based on the specific circumstances of your case.
Need Help with a Workers’ Compensation Claim? Call Geoff McDonald & Associates
Even though workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, it isn’t always a straightforward process. If you need help filing your claim or seeking compensation from your employer, the Virginia workplace injury lawyers at Geoff McDonald & Associates can assist you. Call us at (804) 888-8888 for your free consultation.