When you are injured by someone else’s negligence, you can often pursue compensation through a personal injury claim. When you are injured in an accident at work, you can get compensation for your medical bills and lost wages through workers’ compensation, even if your employer wasn’t negligent in causing your injury.
But what happens if you are injured because of a coworker’s negligence? Is the coworker responsible, or your employer? South Carolina law requires that workers’ compensation insurance provide coverage for injuries caused by co-employees, so typically in this situation, you will apply for workers’ compensation benefits.
Are There Exceptions?
Yes, there are circumstances in which an injury caused by a coworker will not be covered under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
To qualify, your injury must have occurred while performing work duties. This means, for example, if you were hit by a coworker’s car in the parking lot, that injury probably isn’t covered.
Furthermore, most workers’ compensation insurance policies specifically exclude injuries caused by “horsing around” with a coworker. Likewise, injuries caused deliberately, such as in a physical fight with a coworker, are also not covered by workers’ compensation.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Coworker Who Injured Me?
Yes, if you were injured in a way that doesn’t qualify for workers’ compensation, it may still be possible to get compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Injury victims can often seek more money through a personal injury lawsuit than through workers’ compensation, since they can also request damages for their pain and suffering. However, they also need to prove that their injury is the direct fault of their coworker’s negligence, which isn’t a requirement when filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against My Employer if a Coworker Injured Me?
In most circumstances, you cannot sue your employer over an injury that occurred during work, even if it was caused by a coworker.
However, it may be possible to sue your employer if you can prove that they were grossly negligent themselves. For instance, if they were aware that your coworker was highly likely to harm someone and did nothing to stop it, you may be eligible to sue your employer for damages.
An example might be if a coworker regularly came to work intoxicated and your employer was aware of it. If you were then injured as a result of an accident caused by that employee because they were intoxicated, you may be able to sue your employer for their negligence in not taking preventative measures.
What Should I Do If I’m Injured by a Coworker at Work?
You are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits after most injuries caused by a coworker, but the South Carolina workers’ compensation commission may deny your application if you don’t take certain actions before and during filing for benefits.
After an injury, make sure to follow these steps:
- Notify your manager as soon as possible.
- Document your injuries.
- File an accident report, including when, where, and how the injury occurred, as well as who was involved.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Was Injured by a Coworker at Work?
While a lawyer is not necessary to file a workers’ compensation claim, we often recommend hiring a lawyer to help you file your application, as many otherwise valid claims can be denied for things as simple as missing a deadline or filling out your paperwork incorrectly.
A lawyer can help ensure your application is accepted the first time around, and if it was denied when you tried filing yourself, can also help you file an appeal to get the money you need.
If you aren’t sure whether or not your injury qualifies for workers’ compensation, or if you need to pursue a personal injury claim against your coworker or employer, contact the experienced South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm.
In a free consultation, we’ll discuss the details of your case with you and go over your best path forward to compensation. Call today to get started.