The benefits paid by Wyoming workers’ compensation are better than nothing, but they do not make the injured party whole by any measure. You cannot recover damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, or emotional distress.
Also, workers’ compensation pays ONLY two-thirds of your regular wages, and those benefits are CAPPED at the statewide average income for that quarter. So if you are a high wage earner, this can result in a huge pay cut while you are out of work and receiving Temporary Total Disability benefits.
However, if you are injured by a third party while you are working, then you may be able to receive full and fair compensation for your injuries by the third party. What does it mean to be hurt by a third party? In the most basic sense, it means that you are hurt by someone who does not work for the same company you do.
An example of a third-party injury is a FedEx worker who is driving a vehicle for work. If she is negligently struck by a UPS truck, then she will have a third-party claim against UPS and the other driver. She will still be entitled to all benefits under workers’ compensation, but she will not be restricted from pursuing her claim against third parties.
However, in real life, third-party claims are not always so simple. You need to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney investigate your case to see if you may have a third-party claim. The following are examples of successful third-party claims we have brought for our clients.
A convenience store clerk was seriously injured falling down the stairs while taking out the trash at the convenience store. The stairs were poorly built and dangerous. The convenience store had formed a separate LLC, one different from the store business, to own and lease the building. A third-party claim was successfully brought against the LLC for premises liability.
A hardware store employee was asked to help a customer whose vehicle had a dead battery. The employee drove a company truck over to help the customer out. When the employee placed the jumper cables on the car and the customer started it, the car lurched forward crushing the worker. The customer had left the car in gear. Third-party claims were successfully brought against the customer for negligence.
An HVACR technician fell through an uncovered floor opening in a dark closet at a construction site while working for an HVAC contractor on the job. The worker suffered multiple, serious spinal injuries. Third-party claims were successfully brought against the general contractor, electrical contractor and plumbing contractor on the job for failing to cover the opening.
A snowplow driver for WYDOT was struck by a tractor-trailer while plowing snow. Third-party claims were successfully brought against the trucking company for negligence.
A carpenter was walking on a roof while working for the general contractor. He stepped on an improperly fastened sticker placed on the roof by the roofing company, which resulted in falling thirty feet off the roof and catastrophically injuring his foot. A third-party claim was successfully brought against the roofing company for failing to secure the sticker.
Always be on the lookout for third party claims. Never assume that work comp is the only remedy for your clients.