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Can I Sue If I Collected Worker's Comp?


Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Jun 20, 2011 in Bodily Injury

The Law in Indiana is structured so that someone who has been injured in the course of their work is entitled to some recompense.

In most cases, these injuries are handled by the Worker's Compensation Board of Indiana. Often we are asked if it's possible to sue a responsible party for an injury that you've received on the job, if you've already collected worker's comp.

Unfortunately, there's no clear answer to that question, and it's often worthwhile to consult with an Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer to sort it out.

"Exclusive Remedy"

In general, the Indiana's Worker's Compensation system is supposed to take the place of civil law suits for work-related injuries, and in many cases you do not have recourse to civil law suits once you have collected Worker's Compensation. The Indiana Worker's Compensation Guide has this to say:

[I]f there is personal injury, accidentally caused, from arising out of and in the course of employment, the employee must pursue any legal claim against the employer through the worker’s compensation system...

However, the guide does give several examples of cases where a civil lawsuit may be the best recourse that an injured employee has. Here are a few. For example:

[E]mployees can bring lawsuits against third parties (drivers of motor vehicles, manufacturers of defective products, etc.) who are responsible for accidents.  For example, a delivery driver who is injured in a car accident would be able to collect worker's compensation for immediate medical treatment and wage replacement.  If another driver is to blame for the accident, the employee may sue the driver.

However, it goes on to say that if the employee collects from the other driver, they will (in most cases) have to repay their worker's compensation insurance carrier, as they are not allowed to "collect twice." This may still be the best course of action to take, if the case is strong enough against the third party that you are likely to get more from suing them than you have from the worker's comp insurance.

The best thing to do if you have questions regarding your workplace injury is to consult with an Indiana personal injury lawyer, who can help you navigate the complex issues at hand, so that you can proceed with the best possible knowledge of your options.