An injured employee might have a third-party claim regarding a workplace accident or injury. The claim is against a party other than the employer who might be liable for the workers’ injuries and damages.
Maryland Worker’s Compensation
Accidents and injuries at work are typically covered by Maryland’s workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ compensation insurance covers a work-related injury that occurred during the ordinary course of employment. The injured employee receives workers’ comp benefits, including medical benefits and lost wages.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. The injured worker does not need to prove that the employer was negligent in causing the injury. Furthermore, the employee can be partially at fault for their injury and still receive workers’ compensation benefits. Contact our law firm to schedule a free case evaluation today.
However, there are limitations to workers’ comp that place the employee at a disadvantage.
Limitations of Workers’ Compensation in Maryland
Generally, filing a workers’ compensation claim is the exclusive remedy for a work-related injury or occupational illness. The worker cannot sue the employer for the injury. Instead, the worker is limited to the benefits provided under workers’ compensation.
Workers’ comp medical benefits should pay all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to the work injury. Medical benefits continue until you recover fully from your injury or further medical treatment is not expected to improve your condition.
In addition to receiving medical treatment, injured workers can receive disability benefits if they are unable to work. However, disability benefits do not compensate you fully for all lost wages. Furthermore, workers’ comp does not compensate you for pain and suffering damages.
Filing a Third-Party Lawsuit for a Workplace Injury
You might not be able to sue your employer for a work injury, but you might be able to sue a third party. The “third” party is someone other than you and your employer.
For example, a third-party lawsuit might be filed if a defective ladder caused your injury. You could sue the ladder’s manufacturer and other liable parties for damages caused by the defective product. Likewise, if another motorist causes a car accident while you are making deliveries for work, you could sue the other driver for damages.
Most third-party claims are personal injury claims. They are civil cases filed against another party seeking compensation for damages caused by negligence or intentional acts. You have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that:
- The third party owed you a legal duty of care
- The third party breached the duty of care through their acts or omissions
- The breach of duty by the third party was the direct and proximate cause of your injury
- You sustained damages because of the third party’s breach of duty
In personal injury cases, the burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence. Therefore, you must have sufficient evidence to convince the jurors that there is more than a 50% chance your allegations are true and false.
If you prove your third-party claim, you could receive substantially more money for your injury than you would for a workers’ compensation claim.
What Damages Can I Receive for a Third-Party Lawsuit?
The damages in a personal injury lawsuit include compensatory damages and non-compensatory damages.
- Reimbursement for all medical expenses and costs
- Compensation for future medical bills if you sustain a permanent impairment
- Loss of income and benefits, including future lost wages and a decrease in earning capacity
- Mental anguish, emotional distress, and physical pain
- Permanent disabilities, scarring, disfigurement, and impairments
- Loss of enjoyment of life and a decrease in quality of life
- Out-of-pocket expenses and costs
- The expense of in-home and long-term nursing
- Help with household chores and personal care
The value of your third-party claim depends on the circumstances of your case. For example, catastrophic injuries can increase how much a claim is worth.
In addition to compensatory damages, you could receive non-compensatory damages, such as punitive damages. These damages do not compensate you for your losses. Instead, punitive damages “punish” a defendant for acting with actual malice in causing your injury.
The burden of proof increases if you want punitive damages. You must prove your case for punitive damages with clear and convincing evidence. That level of proof is slightly higher than by a preponderance of the evidence but not as high as the burden of proof in criminal cases.
It is important to note that Maryland is one of four states with a pure contributory fault standard. Therefore, if you share even the slightest responsibility for the cause of your injury, you are barred from recovering any money for your claim. In other words, if you are 1% at fault, you cannot hold the other party liable for any of your damages.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
You could be entitled to additional compensation for a workplace injury. Contact our law firm to schedule a free case evaluation today at (410) 837-2144 with one of our experienced Baltimore workers’ compensation attorneys.