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Landmark worker's compensation case makes exception for shootings

As we have covered on this blog, workers' compensation laws have shifted in North Carolina over the last year. Meanwhile, a recent court decision in a nearby state shook up workplace injury laws and how they relate to civil court claims stemming from an accident.

In many states, including North Carolina, once you accept a worker's compensation settlement, you can no longer sue your employer for negligence leading to the injury. However, if an outside party's negligence led to a workplace accident, such as manufacturing defective machinery used on the job, then a third-party civil claim may be a viable option.

The man involved in the recent court decision was accidentally shot on the job by a co-worker in a nearby southern state. Because the employer treated his severe leg injury like a workers' compensation claim, the man was initially unable to sue his negligent co-worker.

However, the state's recent high court decision amended a precedent that barred these types of third-party claims. The court stated that the man's co-worker was shooting his rifle in a manner that was outside the regular duties of his job, so a civil suit could proceed. In other words, the employer did not order the injury-inducing behavior, so it did not apply to existing workers' compensation law.

A third-party claim may be necessary in the case that an injury leaves a person unable to work temporarily or permanently. The additional funds can help supplement workers' compensation benefits to help cover recurring medical costs and lost wages.

As this case shows, state laws surrounding workplace accidents and injuries can be complex and confusing. This is why it is important to be advised of your rights after an incident occurs. The months and years following an accident can be very difficult, so it is important to make sure you and your family have access to what's needed in order to make the necessary adjustments.

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  • A workplace injury can have long-term impacts on a worker and their family. Our firm has experience working with North Carolina families to get the assistance they need after a work-related accident. To learn more about third-party claims, please visit our Greensboro workplace injury page.

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