As you may already know, when you are injured at work, you cannot bring a lawsuit against your employer for compensation for your injuries. Instead, you are able to bring a Workers’ Compensation claim against your employer.
However, if someone else who does not work for your employer is involved in your injury, it may be possible to bring a lawsuit. In this type of scenario, the other person or company would be called the “third party”. Examples of a “third party” might include, but are not limited to:
- the driver of another vehicle who struck you while you were driving a work vehicle;
- someone on a job site who does not work for your employer;
- The owner or manager of a property where you were injured; or
- The manufacturer of a product that injured you at work.
The lawsuit you would be able to bring against a “third party” would be a “third party lawsuit”. This lawsuit would exist separately from the Workers’ Compensation claim and would progress through the court system instead of through the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Unlike Workers’ Compensation cases, third party lawsuits allow an injured person to make recovery for the full extent of the injuries they have sustained. This includes categories of losses that are not covered in a Workers’ Compensation case such as “pain and suffering” and loss of the ability to earn money in the future. The ability to recover for such categories of loss make bringing a third party case a good decision where possible in most circumstances.
Another important difference between Workers’ Compensation cases and a third party lawsuit is that Workers’ Compensation does take into consideration who was at fault for an injury whereas a third party lawsuit does. In order to win a third party lawsuit, the injured party must be able to prove that the third party was at fault for the injury. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, this may prove to be plain and easy or technical and difficult. In fact, expert witness testimony may even be required in order to prove how the third party is responsible for causing the injuries.
Even though Workers’ Compensation cases and third party lawsuits are separate, they may still affect each other as they move along. Specifically, a Workers’ Compensation insurance company will usually try to collect reimbursement for any money it has paid to an injured worker as a part of a Workers’ Compensation benefits if there is a third party case. This is a called a “lien”. Some or all of a lien may be negotiable in some situations. However in most cases the Workers’ Compensation insurance company will be allowed to recover a part of the money paid to an injured worker if that worker also recovers money in a third party lawsuit.
The Dodd Law Firm routinely looks to bring third party lawsuits to compensate our clients when possible. When meeting with a Dodd Law Firm attorney for a Workers’ Compensation claim, be sure to mention whether anyone not employed by your employer was involved in your injury. Our expertise in dealing with both Workers’ Compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits makes us specially qualified bring a third party lawsuit to maximize recovery for clients injured at the work place.