Workers’ Compensation: Can I Sue a Third Party?
When you suffer an injury while on the job, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. However, if someone else and not your employer is responsible for the accident, you might be able to file a claim against them. This type of action is referred to as a third-party claim and is quite different from a workers’ comp claim.
Figuring out whether you can sue a third party while you’re receiving workers’ compensation can be difficult. However, the workers’ compensation lawyers at Waple & Houk understand all aspects of seeking a settlement after a workplace injury. Therefore, this blog post will answer all your questions about suing a third party for a workplace injury.
What Is Third-Party Liability?
Workers’ compensation was created to keep employees from filing a lawsuit against their employer for a work-related injury. A no-fault insurance system covers medical expenses and part of an injured employee’s wages.
The injured employee doesn’t need to prove the employer’s negligence to receive workers’ comp benefits. Similarly, employers cannot refuse to compensate injured workers even if their negligence caused the accident. An employee will only lose the right to compensation if they willfully injured themselves.
However, there are situations where someone other than your employer is liable for your work-related accident. This situation is when third-party liability comes into play. A third-party lawsuit could include a negligent worker or any other third party you find responsible. Suing this person allows you to make claims for pain and suffering, punitive damages, and loss of consortium.
Third-Party Liability in Workers’ Compensation Cases
There are many reasons why a third party could be liable for your work-related accident. Some situations where third parties could be responsible for your work injuries include:
If you were driving a company’s car or performing work-related tasks when the accident happened, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you weren’t at fault, you can also sue the other driver.
There are work-related accidents that occur because a tool was defective. Maybe the device caused you electric shocks or the brakes in a new car malfunctioned and caused a car accident. You can sue the product manufacturer in such a situation.
Construction Site Accidents
Construction injuries can result in third-party claims because different people from different companies work there. You can file a lawsuit against the general contractor responsible for your safety if you work for a subcontractor. If a worker from a different company caused your injury, you could also sue them.
Property Owner Liability
While performing work-related tasks outside the office, you could suffer an injury on someone else’s property. Maybe you’re out on delivery and suffer a dog bite on the property. You can choose to file a claim against the property owner for your injury.
How Do I Prove the Third Party Was Negligent?
Workers’ compensation claims are straightforward because it is a no-fault system, unlike third-party claims. To prove the third party’s negligence, you have to show that they owe you a duty of care and breached it. You also need to establish that due to this breach, you suffered injuries, and this injury led you to suffer monetary damages.
In most cases, you have to provide evidence proving these factors. Once you have the proof, you can file a lawsuit against the third party. Amazingly, you can still collect workers’ comp benefits while pursuing compensation for your damages against a third party.
The Right of Subrogation in Third-Party Claims
While you’re receiving compensation for the full extent of your damages from the negligent third party, your employer also can. Therefore, in addition to your claims, your employer could also choose to make their demands in the lawsuit.
They can demand that the negligent party reimburse them for the compensation they paid to the employee. Typically, this includes the medical bills and wages. This falls under the right of subrogation.
Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Third-party lawsuits can be pretty complex, especially if you have no idea how they will affect your workers’ comp benefits. Also, knowing situations where you can sue a third party for your work injuries ensure you don’t miss out on your rightful compensation. However, it could be overwhelming without an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
The work comp attorneys at Waple & Houk are familiar with these issues and can help you evaluate your claim. We’ll also determine all the legal avenues through which you can recover compensation. You can discuss your claim with our workers’ comp lawyers during a free consultation. Contact our office today to get started on your case.