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The Effect of a Personal Injury Settlement or Award on Workers’ Compensation Payments

Many workers in Tennessee rely on their paychecks on a weekly basis to handle expenses related to mortgage, rent, food, utilities, bills, childcare, and more. However, if during the course of your work duties you get hurt, what happens? You may feel concern immediately about your health, getting better, your paycheck, and the bills that are soon to pile up. Fortunately, workers’ compensation is available to fill in the financial gaps during this difficult time.

If you also obtain a personal injury settlement due to a separate incident and injury unrelated to your work environment, your workers’ compensation payments should remain unaffected by that settlement.

Work related work injury remedy

In the state of Tennessee, any work related injury incurred on or after July 1, 2014 will typically qualify under Tennessee’s workers’ compensation laws (TN Code § 50-6-101). These laws govern workers’ comp claims in the state, including the time period in which an injured worker must provide notice of his or her injury, medical benefits, permanent disability benefits, and temporary disability benefits.

This issue was dealt with head-on in a recent Tennessee Court of Appeals case – Williams v. Buraczynski. In the case, the determining injury occurred in a car accident in which the victim’s coworker was the liable party and was driving during the scope and course of his employment. The victim quickly found a claim for workers’ compensation. The company’s insurer paid out wage and medical benefits according to Tennessee law. The victim also found a separate lawsuit against his co-worker for negligence that led to the crash.

Can you sue if you accept workers’ compensation?

Yes, you can. In some cases, a personal injury lawsuit might be necessary despite an award of workers’ compensation benefits:

  • Your injury was from a defective product, enabling you to file a product liability lawsuit against the product manufacturer.
  • Your injury was due to your employer’s intentional conduct or actions. This is referred to as the intentional tort exception. The injured employee must prove an actual intent to injure on a part of the employer, a high standard to meet.
  • Your injury due to toxic substance exposure, opening the door for a toxic tort lawsuit against the substance manufacturer.
  • Your injury caused by a third-party, enabling you to file a personal injury lawsuit against that party alone.
  • Your employer was not carrying workers’ compensation insurance.

If you have sustained an injury on-the-job in the state of Tennessee, but have stopped receiving workers’ comp benefits, the Chattanooga workers’ compensation attorneys at Wagner & Wagner can help. We can fight for your right to the benefits you deserve. Give us a call today at 423-756-7923 or fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation. Our service area includes Cleveland, Chattanooga, and throughout North Georgia.