If you have been injured at work, more than likely your claim is going to be settled via a workers’ compensation claim. However, the trade-off for workers’ compensation means that all your wages as well as pain and suffering are unlikely to be recovered. In some cases, filing a third-party lawsuit in addition to your workers’ compensation claim will enable you to recover most of that money.
Collecting Workers’ Compensation
When a workers’ compensation claim is made, you lose the ability to sue your employer, save rare exceptions. If, for instance, the employer does not provide workers’ compensation, you would have no choice but to sue your employer. The example we are referring to, however, would be when another party is partially or fully responsible for your injury. This is what is called a third-party lawsuit. In most cases such as this, you would be able to file both a workers’ compensation claim because you were hurt at work as well as a lawsuit against the third-party for their role in the injury.
Can I File a Third-party Lawsuit?
To file a third-party lawsuit, you will have to establish certain qualifiers:
- The injury was a work-related accident.
- The third-party owed you a duty of care.
- The third-party failed to provide duty of care.
- You did suffer injuries as a direct result of that failure.
- The work-related accident is what caused the injuries.
What is Duty of Care?
In laymen’s terms, this is the responsibility of one person or business to another person to avoid causing harm. Some examples of this are:
- A store owner is expected to keep his or her floors clean and free of debris, water, etc. that could promote an injury.
- Manufacturers have a duty to ensure their products are safe for use.
- Doctors have a duty to give patients the proper medical care.
- Drivers have a duty to ensure the safety of their passengers.
Was That Duty Breached?
To win a case, you will have to prove that the duty of care was breached that directly resulted in your injury. Some examples of this are:
- You are working as an assistant on a delivery truck and the driver of the truck runs a red light and collides with another vehicle.
- A manufacturer’s design results in injury from the normal usage of a product.
- Grapes fall on the floor of a grocery store and remain there until a customer slips on them and gets injured.
- A doctor prescribes the wrong medication for an ailment.
The Breach of Duty Caused Your Injuries
To file a case against a third-party, you must also prove that the breach of duty directly caused the injuries. Some examples are:
- As a direct result of the driver running the red light, you suffered broken bones in the accident.
- A child was injured walking down the aisle of the grocery store after the grapes were on the floor for hours.
- An equipment malfunction causes loss of limb.
- A patient has a negative reaction to medication that had been improperly prescribed by his or her doctor.
Suffering Verifiable Damages
The final element that will have to be proven to file a third-party lawsuit is that you must have suffered verifiable damages.
Examples of this would be:
- Bills for physical therapy.
- Bill for medical care, including medication and hospital/doctor treatments.
- Photos or videos of your injuries.
- Services used due to injury, such as childcare, driver services, housekeeping, etc.
Examples of Third-party Lawsuits
Car Accidents – this can fall under a wide array of categories, from a limo service to a delivery service to a courier.
Example: you work for a delivery service and while performing your duties, you are hit by a drunk driver. You would file a workers’ compensation claim because you were injured while working, but you can also file a third-party lawsuit against the driver and his or her insurance company. Once the suit is settled against the drunk driver, all workers’ compensation benefits would have to be reimbursed, but you would be able to keep any excess funds from the settlement.
Construction Accidents – many accidents on construction sites are due to equipment malfunctions and/or negligence.
Example: you are working as a sub-contractor on a site when you are injured after being exposed to live wires that were not covered. In this case, the general contractor can be sued for negligence for not properly covering the wires.
Have you been injured and suspect you have a case against a third-party in addition to your workers’ compensation claim? These cases can be very complicated, so we recommend you reach out to one of our team members to discuss your case ASAP. You are under no obligation to use our services for discussing the case and the consultation is free of charge. Give us a call at 855-633-0888 to see if we can help. If you would like to learn more about our legal services before reaching out, click here.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and Injury law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any injuries from vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice.