If you are injured at work, you are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance company. In addition, you are entitled to file a third party lawsuit against anyone one other than your employer or co-worker who may have contributed to the accident in which you were injured. A third-party lawsuit will enable you to pursue compensation above and beyond those recoverable under a workers’ compensation claim, including compensation for the following damages:
- Medical expenses (past and future);
- Loss of income (present and future);
- Permanent disability; as well as,
- Pain and suffering and loss of the enjoyment of life
No one anticipates being involved in an accident at work, and when it happens, knowing what you should and shouldn’t do can be hard to remember. Having said that, here are several things that you might unwittingly do that can weaken your chances of succeeding in a third-party claim. Avoid doing these things and you will have a better shot at receiving the compensation you deserve.
1. Failure to Report An Accident in a Timely Manner
In addition to jeopardizing your worker’s compensation claim, this will raise skepticism regarding the legitimacy of any third-party liability claim and make it more difficult to find witnesses and obtain treatment. Essentially, not reporting an accident or injury in a timely fashion raises two fundamental questions:
- If the accident was so bad, why didn’t you get examined immediately to make sure that you were ok?
- Did something else happen between the time the accident occurred and your first visit to the doctor that might have caused your injuries?
In an age when jurors are naturally skeptical of individuals who file lawsuits, anything you do to raise these types of questions can damage your case.
2. Failure to Sufficiently Describe The Accident in the Accident Report
If your employer requires you to fill out an accident report, it should sufficiently describe what took place, and wherever applicable, the role that other individuals or companies played in causing the accident that led to your injury. Failure to include important details and to clearly describe how the accident happened can considerably weaken your case.
On the other hand, you do not want to offer any information that can be used to limit your claim. Your goal, as the injured party, is to clearly describe how you were injured. The defense, on the other hand, will be looking for you to admit to something that will weaken your case. So, be clear but concise when describing how your accident happened.
3. Failure to Accurately Explain The Accident to Your Doctor
When you see a doctor the first time, he or she will ask you how you got injured. It is critical that you clearly describe how it happened to the doctor so that he does not write anything different in your medical record. Any discrepancies between what you say and what your doctor puts in your medical records can raise questions regarding your injury and your claim for compensation.
4. Failure to Follow Up With Your Doctor
Jurors want to see that you are working towards recovering from your injuries and getting back to work as soon as possible. Failure to return to the doctor for follow-up visits and missing other appointments are not the kinds of things that jurors like to see.
5. Failure to Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
When you fail to follow your doctor’s orders, he or she will most certainly record this in your medical chart, and you can be certain that the defense attorney will bring it up in court. Furthermore, if your failure to follow medical instructions leads to additional injuries that you would otherwise not have suffered, the defendant’s liability for your injuries may be greatly reduced. There is no need to have surgical procedures or undergo other risky treatments that you don’t want, but failure to follow medical instructions in other respects may come back to hurt your case.
6. Failure to Follow Work Restrictions
If your doctor gives you work restrictions, these restrictions must be followed—before, during, and after work. If you have a 20-pound lifting restriction, you should not be carrying 50-pound boxes from your car to the house. Insurance companies sometimes investigate injury victims without their knowledge, and if you are seen doing things that you are not supposed to be doing (or even worse, that you claim you cannot do), your honesty will be called into question along with the validity of your claim.
7. Failure to Disclose Information That Can Be Detrimental To Your Case
Attorneys sometimes represent clients who have criminal convictions, who have been fired from their jobs, who have emotional problems, anger management problems, prior claims and lawsuits against them, and other things in their pasts that they don’t want anyone to know about. Often, an attorney can build a legal strategy that can keep that information from being disclosed or, at the very least, minimizes the amount of damage it can do to your case.
However, your attorney can’t do anything whatsoever if you do not completely disclose this information to him. On the other hand, the defense will be looking into your background for any information that can be used against you. By withholding information, you are not only sabotaging your attorney, you are sabotaging your case and arming the defense.
8. Failure to Hire Competent Legal Counsel
As you can see, third-party liability lawsuits are complex cases, and not every attorney is capable of handling them. If you retain the services of an attorney who does not have a good understanding of the issues involved in these kinds of lawsuits, any error in strategy can lead to a less-than-desirable outcome to your case. What’s more, once you have engaged an attorney, it can be difficult to replace he or she as your case progresses.
Contact An Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you have been injured on the job in New Jersey, you have a right to seek a workers’ compensation claim to cover the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, and any resulting disability. You may also be eligible to file a third-party lawsuit against anyone other than your employer or a co-worker who contributed to the accident in which you were injured. To find out if you have a third-party case to pursue, contact a qualified New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer today.