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Workers' compensation and injuries caused by third parties

Among other things, the Connecticut workers' compensation system is supposed to encourage employers to keep their workplaces safe. When employees suffer injuries at work or while performing work duties, the employer must provide certain benefits. However, what about when employers are injured on the job through no fault of the employer?

Recently, a Walmart employee was among those hurt when a man suddenly rammed a car through the front of the store, got out and started attacking people, apparently at random, with a blunt object. Four people were injured, one of them seriously. Police said they suspect the man was on drugs.

Under Connecticut's workers' compensation system, employees may only receive benefits if their injuries were work-related. Injuries sustained at the workplace would likely be covered, and so would injuries sustained away from the workplace while the employee was performing work duties.

Workers' compensation benefits are meant to take the place of a personal injury lawsuit. That means an employee who receives the benefits is generally barred from suing the employer over the same incident. Nonetheless, when the work-related injury was caused by a third party, such as a faulty piece of equipment or another person who was not affiliated with the employer, the injured person may file for workers' compensation benefits with the employer and sue the third party.

Injuries can happen at all kinds of workplaces, whether construction sites or retail stores, and they can often be severe. Those who are injured are left with huge medical expenses, lost wages and other costs. Workers' compensation benefits are supposed to help compensate for these losses, but when an employer does not honor a request for benefits, or when the benefits aren't enough, the employee must investigate the available legal options.

Source: Connecticut Post, "Police suspect drug use in Calif. Walmart crash," April 1, 2013.

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