In California workplace injury cases, the general rule is that a workers’ compensation claim is the injured employee’s sole remedy against their employer. The idea is that the no-fault workers’ compensation program is a more efficient method of getting an injured employee the compensation they need while they recover from their injuries. However, damages are limited in California workers’ compensation cases to actual medical expenses and lost wages.
California law also permits workplace injury cases to be filed against third parties that are responsible for an employee’s injuries. For example, if a truck driver is injured while unloading his cargo due to some hazard on the loading dock, the company receiving the delivery may be named as a third-party defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. However, special care must be taken in the preparation of these cases to avoid unintended consequences.
A recent case discusses the difficulties one plaintiff encountered after successfully obtaining a judgment against a third-party defendant. In that case, the plaintiff was injured in a Wal-Mart store while on the clock for another company. Immediately after her injury, the plaintiff sought and obtained workers’ compensation benefits through her employer for both medical expenses and lost wages.