What You Need To Know About Third-Party Liability In Workers' Compensation Cases

Law Blog

Suffering a workplace injury can be devastating to your well-being as well as your livelihood. The potential for long-term disability due to a work-related accident is what makes the ability to file a workers' compensation claim crucial for the average worker. But what if the accident in question wasn't directly caused by an employer's actions, but instead those of a third party?

In cases like these, the question of third-party liability often comes up. The following takes a look at what happens when a third party causes a workplace accident and how you'll be able to receive fair compensation from the parties involved.

How It Differs From Workers' Compensation

Workers' compensation is intended as a mandatory alternative to tort action on the part of an injured employee. In exchange for giving up their right to sue for damages, the injured party instead applies for workers' comp benefits, including medical treatment and wage loss benefits, through the employer's insurance provider.

In essence, workers' comp acts as a type of insurance for workers that covers most workplace mishaps. However, a workplace accident caused in part or in whole by a third party, such as a subcontractor, equipment manufacturer, or even an ordinary citizen can make a workers' comp claim a bit more complicated to pursue.

This is where third-party liability comes into play. While you're not able to sue your employer over compensation for your workplace injury under most circumstances, you'll be able to do just that against the third party responsible for your injuries. Third-party claims against the responsible parties can be pursued in combination with workers' comp claims against your employer, ensuring you get the proper long-term compensation for your severe injury or disability.

When It Should Be Used

There are plenty of instances where a third-party claim is considered appropriate. For instance, if you're driving a construction vehicle on the worksite and end up being injured in an accident caused by a subcontractor, then you may be able to sue the subcontractor for compensation in addition to filing a workers' comp claim with your employer.

If you're working under a subcontractor and you become seriously injured due to the general contractor's negligence, you can file a third-party claim against the general contractor as long as there's proof that the contractor is partially or fully liable for your injuries. If a faulty piece of machinery causes you serious injury during operation, then you may be able to file a third-party claim against the manufacturer.

In essence, third-party claims should be used in situations where the injuries in question were not caused by your immediate employer, but instead by one or more third parties responsible. However, these types of claims are not always used in such a strict manner.

Third-Party Claims in Lieu of Workers' Compensation

While employers are shielded against third-party claims made by their employees, it's usually by virtue of their workers' compensation insurance. Without it, employers are just as vulnerable to being sued as any other party involved in a serious workplace accident.

If your employer doesn't have workers' comp coverage, then you may have to sue your employer for compensation. In the meantime, you may be able to get help from the workers' compensation fund set up by your state government. In most cases, you'll be able to use the third-party claim settlement you received from your employer in conjunction with any workers' comp benefits you've received from your state government to regain lost wages and medically recover from your injuries.

Deciding when it's appropriate to file a third-party claim can be a complicated issue for many people pursuing workers' comp cases. Fortunately, you can always turn to your personal injury attorney whenever you need help navigating these and other legal issues. 


17 August 2017

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