Visitor Question

Can I file a third-party claim after getting assaulted by a patient during work hours?

Submitted By: Mary (Maplewood, Alabama)

I was assaulted by a dialysis patient who has serious drug addictions and recorded actions of violence. We even had police guards more than once for our protection. The protection stopped but the patient was allowed to stay at our clinic with his serious addiction and violent history.

I was on the clinic floor during working hours. The patient arrived high from drugs and he was assigned to my area. It was agreed by the medical director, management, and the social worker, that if he arrives high we were to refuse him dialysis treatment. He was shouting verbal profanities towards me and I was assaulted, receiving right knee and back injuries.

I filed a workmans comp claim, and they sent me to therapy for my back. Can I file a Third-party Lawsuit in addition to the workmans comp claim?  Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Mary,

In addition to collecting Alabama Workers Compensation benefits you may also seek compensation benefits under a third party civil action against the patient who injured you.

In most cases, persons who purposely or negligently injure others may be held responsible or “liable” for the injuries they cause, and the resulting costs of medical treatment. This applies to the patient who injured you.

When an Alabama worker is injured while performing his or her customary work duties, whether through the worker’s own fault, the employer’s fault, or the fault of another person not employed by your employer (a Third Party), the worker will be entitled to Workers Comp benefits. Those benefits can include compensation for the worker’s medical treatment and related costs, and for lost wages.

Unfortunately, under Alabama’s Workers Compensation statutes, an injured worker is only entitled to lost wage benefits in an mount approximating two-thirds of the worker’s wages. The worker is also entitled to compensation for medical treatment and related out-of-pocket costs. Alabama Workers Comp benefits do not provide compensation for emotional distress or pain and suffering.

For example, let’s say you are driving a delivery truck for your employer. While stopped at a red light, another driver (3rd party) fails to stop and crashes into the rear of your truck.

Presuming you were injured in the accident, you will be entitled to Workers Comp benefits and will also have the right to pursue a separate personal injury claim against the third party driver. Because workers’ compensation does not cover 100% of your losses, you will be entitled to pursue the third party for the difference between the two-thirds wage loss provided by workers comp and 100% of your lost wages. You can also pursue the third-party for compensation for your pain and suffering.

Unfortunately, considering your description of the patient who assaulted you as a drug addict with a violent history, it’s unlikely he will have significant assets to pursue in a third-party action. However, it’s always worth speaking with a local personal injury attorney. Most give free initial consultations.

Learn more here: Assaults and Workplace Violence

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck with your claim.

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