Generally, workers’ compensation claims preclude injured workers from filing a civil action in court since workers’ comp was designed as a single-recovery system. This means the only source of income afforded to injured workers is what their employers’ insurers pay in medical care, disability, loss of wages, among other losses. Third party negligence, however, offers another method of recovery for persons injured at work, provided another party caused an injury. Third parties to a worker’s, injury, pain, and suffering may be held accountable.
Let us look at third-party negligence as it applies to both workplaces and other areas of public interest.
Explanation of Third Party Negligence
Workplace injuries, more often than not, have two parties: an injured worker (plaintiff), and the employer (tortfeasor). When injured, the plaintiff will file a claim against the workplace’s insurer to collect benefits until such a time they may return to duty. Medical treatment and monies to cover life expenses are paid during that period, tortfeasors will generally fix their errors, and life goes on.
However, when a third party (also a tortfeasor) is liable that third party can be found negligent and responsible for an additional sum of money. Unlike filing a claim against an insurer with proof of only injury, third party claims must show an outside party breached its duty of care, and that breach resulted in the workplace injury.
Examples of Third Party Negligence
To illustrate third party negligence, we offer a few examples where both workers’ comp and third-party claims could be payable to the injured:
- Driver is delivering parts to another facility. While in transit, a tractor trailer rams into the driver’s truck, injuring her badly enough to merit an extended hospital stay. The injured person could not only claim workers’ comp, but she could hold the tractor trailer driver’s company responsible as a third party.
- Computer programmer, who sits for long hours, gets a brand new chair. The next day, the chair leg breaks, injuring the programmer’s back and hip. Not only would the injured person get worker’s compensation, but the chair manufacturer could be held accountable for defective equipment.
Any instance in which a third party is involved with an injury at your place of employment qualifies the injured person to possibly receive compensation from two sources.
Litigation is Necessary in Third Party Actions
Third party negligence is serious enough that an attorney should handle all technicalities because an attorney will be more efficient at filing claims on an injured person’s behalf. Should court appearances be deemed necessary, the legalities of these claims can get complicated.
Do not let third parties get away with hurting you. As an injured worker, you are entitled to claim worker’s compensation benefits from the workplace insurer, and a possible settlement from the third party responsible for the pain and suffering you endured.
With an experienced third party claims attorney on your side, you will know the different sources of recovery and get the compensation to which you are entitled.