Vermont’s workers’ compensation law generally prohibits an employee from suing their employer, even in cases where the employer is at fault. An injured employee’s sole remedy is to bring a workers’ compensation claim for workers’ compensation benefits such as wage replacement, medical benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and permanent disability benefits. In a workers’ compensation claim, you do not have to prove that another person was negligent.
But you can sue a third-party for damages, if your injury is caused by the negligence of a third- party who is someone other than your employer or co-worker. A third-party action involves bringing a lawsuit for bodily injuries and is separate and apart from a workers’ compensation case.
You can recover damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress and, in some instances, punitive damages. Your spouse may be able to receive damages for loss of consortium. These types of damages are not available under workers’ compensation.
Third-party actions may arise in these commons circumstances:
Auto Accidents – Third-party actions may arise from auto accidents that occur if you are on the road as part of your job. For instance, a driver for a delivery company is involved in a vehicle accident when another driver runs a red light. The driver/employee can collect workers’ compensation benefits and bring a lawsuit against the driver who ran the red light.
Medical malpractice – Medical malpractice sometimes occurs when an injured worker has surgery or other treatment for his or her work injury. In these instances, the injured worker can collect workers’ compensation benefits and also sue the negligent doctor, hospital or other medical provider.
Slip and fall/Premises liability: These claims arise when a worker on the job is injured while on another’s property. Some examples are when a worker slips on water or ice, falls due to defective stairs, is hit with falling merchandise or other objects or is injured due to the condition of a parking lot.
Products liability: Products liability claims arise when an injured worker is injured due to a defective product. He or she may be injured by defective machinery, equipment or any other defective equipment used on the job. In these cases, the injured is able to bring a third-party lawsuit against the product manufacturer.
Under Vermont law, the employer or insurer who pays workers’ compensation benefits has a lien on any recovery from a third-party action.
If you have been hurt on the job by the negligence of a third-party, please call us at 802-775-7459 for a free consultation.