Workplace Accidents: Third Party Liability Lawsuits

If you have been hurt at work due to an accident or have otherwise developed a medical condition due to the recurring exposure to hazards or other toxins, workers’ compensation benefits can help you in the recovery process. However, workers’ compensation may not be your only option for recovering after a workplace accident.

Through workers’ compensation, you may be able to receive disability benefits and pay for medical related treatments. Workers’ compensation laws ensure that injured workers receive  benefits when they cannot work. These benefits, however, limit a worker’s rights to a certain degree. Conditions are set in an effort to prevent workers from filing personal injury lawsuits against his or her employer.

These sorts of conditions can prevent a grieving family from recovering these losses after the employee has passed away. The surviving family of a workplace accident victim may not be able to recover compensation for monetary and non-monetary losses. Whether it is a surviving family or an injured worker, another alternative to recovering losses is a third party liability claim.

If you or someone you love has been injured at work and workers’ compensation simply does not cover the losses sustained, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you seek compensation from a third party. A qualified attorney review the facts of the case and explain your options for seeking restitution.

Understanding How Third Party Liability Lawsuits Work

Under certain state workers’ compensation laws, an employer cannot be held liable for work related injuries. These laws, however, cannot impede workers or the surviving families of deceased workers from filing a suit against non-employers who have inadvertently caused the work-related tragedy to transpire. Filing a suit against non-employers is commonly referred to as a third party lawsuit or a third party liability claim.

There are various circumstances in which a third party can legally be held responsible for a workplace injury. The following are some of the most common examples where a third party liability claim could transpire.

  • Vehicle Accidents
    • Many workers use their car or a company car to run work-related errands or tasks. There are many accidents that can happen through the use of a car in work hours. While an injured worker can file a workers’ compensation claim since he or she was injured during work hours, the employee may also have the option of filing a personal injury suit against the negligent driver that caused the car accident.
  • Defective Work Equipment
    • An employee could suffer injuries at work due in part to defective machinery. If this is your situation, you could make a workers’ compensation claim. You could also file a third party liability claim against the manufacturer of the machinery that caused your injury.
  • Subcontractor Liability
    • Many workers suffer injuries due to the actions or lack of action of a subcontractor. While an employee is unable to sue his or her employer, he or she may be able to sue the subcontractor or other outside contracted supervisor that helped foster a dangerous work environment.
  • Defective Products
    • There are many liquids and other harmful toxins that can severely injure a worker. Due to this, many workers suffer injuries because of defective products. Many of these injuries can be the result of extremely hot liquids that are not safely contained in a product of device. Since the injury occurred at work, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to recover some of the losses. If you have been injured at work due to a defective product, keep in mind that you may also be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer of the faulty product.
  • Unsafe and Hazardous Designs
    • There are other non-employers who can be held liable due to a worker’s workplace injury. An employee can sustain injuries due to the actions or lack thereof of an architect, project manager, or other third party. For instance, when constructing a building project, an architect or engineer can make a mistake, creating a hazardous design. There can also be a lack of supervision in the project. A third party could be held responsible for the injuries sustained.
  • Property Dangers
    • Many workers travel for work-related tasks. Due to this, an employee can be injured on someone else’s property while working. A worker has the option of filing a personal injury claim against the property owner if the hazards present on the property played a role in the injury.

In these and other situations, you may have the option of taking legal action against a third party or non-employer for the incident that contributed to your work-related injuries. Remember: third party claims are wholly separate from filing for a workers’ compensation claim. It is important to understand that both claims can be processed at the same time. Equally important, if you have successfully recovered damages from the third party suit, you may be required to reimburse your employer for workers’ compensation benefits you already may have received.

The Importance of Third Party Responsibility

There are countless forms of injuries that can be sustained in a workplace setting. Some of these can surpass the funds accessible through a workers’ compensation claim. For this reason, third party liability claims are be very important for workers and their families. A worker may sustain injuries that cause short or long term disabilities. He or she may not be able to do that job ever again. In the most unfortunate of cases, a worker may lose his or her life, leaving behind a vulnerable and financially burdened family.

To fully explore your options, speak with a workers’ compensation attorney or personal injury attorney with experience dealing with workplace injuries. They can determine if any third parties played a role in your injury, and help you recover.