Under Connecticut’s Workers’ Compensation Act, an employer is responsible for injuries to a worker that arise out of and in the course of the employment. The Act requires the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier to pay for all related medical bills, lost time from work, and for any permanent injuries sustained by a worker.
In a recent matter handled by the Firm, the worker was injured at his workplace, and his employer accepted responsibility under the Act. The injury required surgery which the employer’s insurance carrier agreed to pay for as well. During the surgery, however, the doctor failed to follow established protocol, leaving the worker permanently injured and needing multiple future corrective surgical procedures.
Who is responsible, the surgeon for negligently performing the surgical procedure, or the employer who is responsible for the workplace injury? If you answered either the surgeon or the employer, you are partly right. The correct answer is that they are BOTH responsible.
Under the Act, an employer is responsible for any injuries that flow from the original injury. In the scenario described, the worker needed surgery for the original workplace incident. During the surgery, medical malpractice was committed by the doctor resulting in a more serious injury than the worker originally sustained. Connecticut’s case law on this question strongly favors holding the employer’s insurance carrier responsible for the injury caused by the surgeon. But does the surgeon get a pass? Absolutely not. The surgeon can be sued for medical malpractice in a separate civil suit. Additionally, in the event that an injured worker successfully recovers money from the surgeon in a medical malpractice action, the employer may be entitled to recoup most of its related payments to the worker. In the two claims – the workers compensation claim and the civil medical malpractice claim – the damages are not identical. In the workers’ compensation claim damages may include medical bills, lost wages and a set sum of money for a permanent injury. In the medical malpractice claim, the damages include bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, fear of future surgical procedures, scaring, economic losses, and more.
Worker’ compensation claims can be complicated. That’s why it makes sense to seek out legal representation by a law firm that focuses on both workers compensation claims and personal injuries. Feel free to call us to discuss your case.