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Third Party Claims in Georgia Work Comp Third Party Claims

Third party claims are very common in workers’ compensation.  People often wonder if they can sue their employer for emotional distress or for pain and suffering if they suffer a work-related claim. The answer is typically no as there is an “exclusive remedy” provision. Essentially, the workers’ compensation system was created as a no-fault system in order to provide injured workers with prompt medical care. In exchange, employers are typically shielded from being sued in tort.

However, there may be instances where there are both third party, civil claims as well as workers’ compensation claims which run concurrently. For example, an injured worker driving a company vehicle may have a claim against another driver in an auto accident as well as a workers’ compensation claim with their own employer. Another example of this might be if an injured worker worked in a factory and was injured by a defective forklift or a negligently maintained piece of equipment that was the responsibility of someone other than the direct employer.  This creates the scenario where we see the third party claims issue.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

In workers’ compensation, an injured worker can receive weekly income benefits, medical treatment, a possible permanent impairment rating and possible vocational rehabilitation services. However, a personal injury case also allows for pain and suffering and lost earning capacity among other things. Personal injury settlements are typically much higher value.

Subrogation in Workers’ Compensation

When there is a third party claim running concurrently with a workers’ compensation claim, there’s also the issue of subrogation. Essentially, the workers’ compensation carrier will attempt to assert a  right of subrogation in an attempt to recoup the money it has paid on the claim if another party is found liable. However, Georgia follows the “made whole” doctrine. Therefore, the insurance company would not be entitled to reimbursement unless that person is “made whole (O.C.G.A. Sec. 33-24-56.1), Duncan v. Integon Gen. Ins. Corp., 267 Ga. 646,647 (482 S.E.2d 325)(1997); Thurman v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 278 Ga. 162,164(598 S.E. 2d 448)(2004). It is extremely difficult for a workers’ compensation insurance carrier to prove that an injured worker has been “made whole”, or been fully compensated for their medical bills, lost wages and damages for pain and suffering. Under applicable Georgia case law, the only way this can be proven is through a special verdict by a jury and as most cases resolve without a trial it is extremely unlikely that a workers’ compensation insurance carrier could prove that the injured worker was “made whole.”

Workers’ Compensation Settlement Negotiations

Sometimes during settlement negotiations to the workers’ compensation claim lawyers will seek to obtain a “waiver of subrogation rights” from the insurance carrier. In reality, this is not necessary. Oftentimes this makes employers believe that they have obtained a bargaining chip in settlement discussions for the workers’ compensation claim when, in reality, their chance of prevailing and obtaining subrogation is extremely remote anyway. It is important if you have a third party claim and a workers’ compensation claim pending that you have attorneys well versed in both specialties who are communicating with each other.

Georgia Workers’ Compensation – Helpful Information

What to Know About Workers’ Compensation Attorney Settlements 

Read How to Value Your Claim  

Learn the Top 10 Injured Workers Mistakes 

Review the  Top 10 Insurance Adjuster Tactics

Timelines for Workers’ Compensation Claims: How Long Will My Case Take

Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

At Gearhart Law Group we work with a network of very experienced attorneys that communicate frequently regarding case strategy and status.  If you have been injured on the job or need free consultation on your Georgia workers’ compensation claim, contact Beth Gearhart at (404) 725-8810.  Beth listens and cares about her clients!

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See What People Are Saying

It turned out to be the best decision I have made in a long, long time.

I got injured at work. Trying to deal with the insurance company became overwhelming mainly because I needed surgery and they would not respond to my calls or emails. I researched local attorneys and decided to choose Gearhart Law Group mainly because it was smaller, I liked the information I read and I felt I might get more individual attention. It turned out to be the best decision I have made in a long, long time. Beth Gearhart made me feel as though I were her only client. She responded to my emails immediately, every time. She explained the whole process from the beginning and everything unfolded exactly as she explained it would. The process took time but I received the surgery I needed and in the end was very surprised by the large financial settlement I received due to Ms. Gearhart’s expertise. I highly recommend Gearhart Law Group.

R. Draine

5.0
2018-05-16T13:27:43+00:00

R. Draine

I got injured at work. Trying to deal with the insurance company became overwhelming mainly because I needed surgery and they would not respond to my calls or emails. I researched local attorneys and decided to choose Gearhart Law Group mainly because it was smaller, I liked the information I read and I felt I might get more individual attention. It turned out to be the best decision I have made in a long, long time. Beth Gearhart made me feel as though I were her only client. She responded to my emails immediately, every time. She explained the whole process from the beginning and everything unfolded exactly as she explained it would. The process took time but I received the surgery I needed and in the end was very surprised by the large financial settlement I received due to Ms. Gearhart’s expertise. I highly recommend Gearhart Law Group.

Would have given her 10 stars if possible!

Highly recommend Beth for WC claims! I was ALWAYS able to talk to her when I called and she responded to my emails very quickly. She was able to get us a very fair amount and did not just tell us what we wanted to hear, she was very honest! Would have given her 10 stars if possible!

B. Atwater

5.0
2018-05-16T13:29:37+00:00

B. Atwater

Highly recommend Beth for WC claims! I was ALWAYS able to talk to her when I called and she responded to my emails very quickly. She was able to get us a very fair amount and did not just tell us what we wanted to hear, she was very honest! Would have given her 10 stars if possible!

Gearhart Law Group the best in GA hands down!!!

Words can’t express how thankful I am for such a superb team! From the very beginning Beth waisted no time, she executed every step of the way. I never had to worry. Gearhart Law Group made me feel like I was there most important priority and not another file you just throw away on the desk. From finding doctors and getting the best treatment possible Khristy, your a trooper thank you so much. Gearhart Law Group the best in GA hands down!!!

D. Evans

5.0
2018-05-16T13:40:58+00:00

D. Evans

Words can’t express how thankful I am for such a superb team! From the very beginning Beth waisted no time, she executed every step of the way. I never had to worry. Gearhart Law Group made me feel like I was there most important priority and not another file you just throw away on the desk. From finding doctors and getting the best treatment possible Khristy, your a trooper thank you so much. Gearhart Law Group the best in GA hands down!!!

I would highly recommend Beth to anyone needed a Workers Compensation Lawyer.

From the moment I called Beth, I knew I had made the right decision. She returned my initial phone call very promptly and was sensitive to my case and situation. I had an injury in Georgia, but live in New York so the case was complicated and unique. I found her to be extremely knowledgeable about Georgia Workers Compensation laws which is what I needed assistance with. I would highly recommend Beth to anyone needed a Workers Compensation Lawyer.

Client Testimonial

5.0
2018-05-16T13:40:08+00:00

Client Testimonial

From the moment I called Beth, I knew I had made the right decision. She returned my initial phone call very promptly and was sensitive to my case and situation. I had an injury in Georgia, but live in New York so the case was complicated and unique. I found her to be extremely knowledgeable about Georgia Workers Compensation laws which is what I needed assistance with. I would highly recommend Beth to anyone needed a Workers Compensation Lawyer.
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