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Workplace Injuries Resulting in Claims Against Third Parties

If you are injured on the job, whether it is in a car, a construction site, or office setting, your sole remedy is through Connecticut's workers' compensation law - Right? Well, not always. Although the Workers' Compensation Act essentially limits any claims arising from workplace injuries to the workers compensation administrative

system, if someone other than your employer causes your on-the-job injuries, you may also have a claim against that person. This is called a third party claim, and you can bring that claim in addition to the workers' compensation claim. Example: While in the course of delivering a pizza to a customer, the delivery person is rear-ended by a negligent driver. In this case, the pizza delivery driver may file a workers' compensation claim AND file a separate lawsuit against the negligent driver.

These two legal actions can progress at the same time and each provides different benefits and advantages to an injured party. In a workers' compensation claim, the employer's insurance company pays benefits to the injured employee. These benefits may consist of a portion of the lost wages, medical bills, and an award for any permanent injuries. In a personal injury claim, the third party's insurance carrier - commonly an automobile or homeowner's insurance policy - pays the fair and reasonable damages suffered by the driver. These damages consist of economic losses, such as lost wages, property damage, lost future wages, medical bills, loss of enjoyment of life, an award for pain and suffering and more. Of course, an injured person can't receive the same types of benefits twice (no double recovery), and Connecticut law provides for an adjustment between insurance companies to ensure that an injured party reimburses to the workers' compensation carrier any funds that he recovers from the negligent third party's insurance carrier.

In choosing a Connecticut personal injury lawyer, it is helpful to use a lawyer who not only understands the intertwined nature of the two separate claims, but who actively practices in workers' compensation law AND personal injury law.

Your Confidential Medical Information - Connecticut Recognizes New Cause of Action

Until very recently, there was little or no remedy available to people whose private medical records were negligently handled and improperly disclosed by a medical provider. This changed in January 2018 when the Connecticut Supreme Court recognized for the first time that a legal claim exists protecting a person's right to keep their medical records confidential. This case provides a great example of how individuals who stand up for their rights - with the help of a strong lawyer advocate - can make the world a safer place for everyone.

The case involved a paternity action commenced by the father of the child. The child's mother instructed her obstetrician not to release her medical records to the father. The father's attorney issued a subpoena to the obstetrician for the mother's medical records, and the doctor, without notifying the mother, filing a motion to prevent the disclosure or appearing in court, mailed "all medical records" pertaining to the mother to the defendant's lawyer. In this case, the mother filed suit against her doctor.

The Court, reversing the lower trial court, acknowledged that "[T]he importance of confidentiality in the physician-patient relationship has been recognized by courts in numerous jurisdictions throughout the country. Courts have repeatedly used the common law to recognize "a patient's valid interest in preserving the confidentiality of medical facts relayed to a physician." Bratt v. International Business Machines Corp., 392 Mass. 508, 522, 467 N.E.2d 126 (1984). "A patient should be entitled to freely disclose his symptoms and condition to his doctor in order to receive proper treatment without fear that those facts may become public property. Only thus can the purpose of the relationship be fulfilled." Hague v. Williams, 37 N.J. 328, 336, 181 A.2d 345 (1962)."

The Court went on to discuss its authority to create new causes of action: "An exhaustive search of Connecticut case law reveals no hard and fast test that courts apply when determining whether to recognize new causes of action. We do have the inherent authority, pursuant to the state constitution, to create new causes of action. . . . Moreover, it is beyond dispute that we have the power to recognize new tort causes of action, whether derived from a statutory provision or rooted in the common law." (Citation omitted.) ATC Partnership v. Coats North America Consolidated, Inc., 284 Conn. 537, 552-53, 935 A.2d 115 (2007)." After a lengthy discussion of other state's that have considered this issue, and the alternative sanctions provided by other state and federal statutes, the Court stated: "We conclude that a duty of confidentiality arises from the physician-patient relationship and that unauthorized disclosure of confidential information obtained in the course of that relationship for the purpose of treatment gives rise to a cause of action sounding in tort against the health care provider, unless the disclosure is otherwise allowed by law." This case provides a great example of how individuals who stand up for their rights - and with the help of a strong lawyer advocate - can make the world a safer place for everyone.

Have a case that you think might be actionable, but doesn't fit the cookie cutter personal injury action? Call us. We're interested.


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