Mass Casualty Exercise - U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, South Korea - 2 November 2011

Third Party Claims for Work Injuries: Who's Responsible?

Third Party Claims for Work Injuries: Who's Responsible?

Many of our grandparents grew up in an America that had no third party claims or worker protections, but thanks to their continuous fighting, we are able to enjoy rights that they only dreamed of. One of these rights, and one of the most important, is the right to receive worker's compensation benefits in the event of an on-the-job accident. These benefits are available regardless of who was at fault, but in reality, an injured worker may be entitled to much more. In fact, when a third party is negligent in a work-related accident, an injured worker may receive much more than just replacement income and medical compensation.

What are They?

These claims arise when a party other than the employee or employer causes an on-the-job accident. Traditionally, a worker can file for worker's compensation benefits regardless of whether they're at fault for their injury or not, and this is also the case when a third party is liable. When a third party is to blame, however, the worker can actually file a lawsuit against that person or organization.

Worker's compensation benefits are usually restricted to paying for medical bills, replacing lost income and covering a small list of other financial difficulties that the worker experiences related to their accident. When a third party causes an accident, though, it becomes just like any other lawsuit. Through third party claims the worker could actually recover general damages, such as those related to pain and suffering, before all is said and done with.

How to Tell the Difference

While it can sometimes be simple to know when a third party is at fault for an injury, the majority of the time it's a quite complex thing to figure out. A recent accident in New York, for instance, occurred on a construction site when two workers fell through an open hole on site. While all of the information has yet to be released, it's possible that someone other than the employer could be at fault. If utilities workers didn't properly replace a manhole after their work, for instance, this could've led to the accident the two men experienced and leave fault on the city. 

Additionally, there have been numerous times on New York construction sites where heavy machinery has malfunctioned and caused serious injuries. In some of these cases, this was the equipment manufacturer's fault. 

In both of the aforementioned instances, injured workers would do well to seek out a construction accident attorney. These legal professionals can usually pinpoint exactly who was at fault, and since the negligent third party will likely try to say that worker's comp should kick it, it's essential to have a legal representative at one's side. 

Additional Considerations for Third Party Claims

As mentioned, even if a third party was at fault, this doesn't bar a person from receiving worker's compensation. This should never, however, stop them from filing a claim against the third party. The injured worker should always keep in mind, though, that they can't receive compensation from all sides. Fortunately, worker's compensation will take care of a person until their settlement from the third party is reached. At that time, however, the employee will likely be required to reimburse the worker's comp provider.

No one enjoys being put out of work due to an injury, but when these incidents do occur, it's good to know that the law will protect an individual's rights. A company and its employees have a mutual agreement that, as long as reckless negligence wasn't involved, a worker is eligible for worker's compensation and will not sue their employer. Third parties, on the other hand, are not a part of this equation. This is why, with the right legal help, an injured worker may be able to do much better than worker's comp benefits. 

Lisa Coleman shares how third party claims can be affected when injured on the job. She recently researched to help her obtain information to complete this piece about these kinds of claims and how an attorney can help.

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