Labor 411: Ask The Expert | David Winnett (September 2016)

I was injured at work when a railing gave way and I fell off a walkway at the factory. I have since found out that the factory is owned and maintained by a company that owns my company. I settled my workers' compensation case against my company, but I still have a lot of bills that haven't been paid and I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to return to work. What are my options?

Workers often find that the medical and disability benefits they can receive in the workers' compensation system do not cover all of their financial losses. Additionally, workers' compensation does not allow a person to recover for pain and suffering. For those additional losses, a worker may be able to seek to recover against other responsible parties.

One option here may be a lawsuit against your company's parent company. The California Labor Code provides that a worker who has received workers' compensation benefits from his employer may still sue third parties for their independent acts of negligence. This can include the parent company of the worker's employer, as long as the parent company committed independent acts of negligence.

For example, a parent company may be responsible for a worker's injury if it agreed to provide a safe work environment at the subsidiary's workplace and then failed to do so. Here, if the parent company failed to maintain the walkway and railing in the proper manner, it may be liable for your injuries.

For additional advice as to what you should do in your specific situation, you should consult with attorneys who specialize in workers' compensation and personal injury claims as soon as possible, because both of these types of claims have strict rules and time limits to follow.