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Work Injuries & Third-Party Injury Lawsuits

Offered by Keogh Crispi, P.C.

Your employer may not be the only one responsible for your injuries

Work injuries can happen in any environment.

Right now, somewhere, there are contractors being struck by equipment, office workers being exposed to chemicals, maintenance crews cleaning without proper personal protective equipment, and truckers wheeling down the highway in overloaded vehicles ready to tip.

When an employee is injured on the job due to someone else’s negligence, most people assume the only remedy is to file a workers’ compensation claim.

You have more options than that.

Applying for workers’ comp is almost certainly necessary, but many injured workers forget to consider filing a third-party injury claim, as well.

Too many seriously injured people assume the state benefits program will carry them through their work-related injury or illness and provide enough money to sustain their families while they heal. The truth is that workers’ comp may not cover the full extent of your losses, so if you only pursue state benefits, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table.

To avoid a future struggling with accident-related medical bills, when appropriate, injured workers should consider filing a third-party claim.

What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation is one of the nation’s oldest social insurance programs. The first state to create such a program did so in 1910. Before this, workers did not have much protection from losses brought on by job site injuries and illnesses.

Workers’ compensation benefits are different from state to state.

For the most part, workers’ comp provides injured employees with money for medical care and partial lost wages. It’s a no-fault program, so even if the injury was the worker’s fault, workers’ comp still pays.

In exchange for participating in the program, in many cases, employers are protected from worker-injury lawsuits. There are very few instances in which an employee can directly sue their employer over injuries.

What is a workplace third-party injury claim?

In general, if you are injured on the job by the negligent actions or inactions of someone other than your direct employer (or a coworker employed by the same direct employer), you are most likely eligible to file a third-party injury claim. These are civil lawsuits that require you to prove the cause of your injuries.

Third-party injury claims can involve a wide variety of situations and people including:

  • Car accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Premises liability
  • Defective equipment
  • Chemical exposure
  • Subcontractors
  • Office building and worksite owners

Third-party claims can happen in any industry, but they are more common in some industries than others. They’re especially common in construction accidents, for example, because there are often multiple organizations involved on a construction site – general contractors, property managers, architects, subcontractors, etc. – plus equipment manufacturers and other potential third parties.

If I can apply for workers’ compensation, why would I need to file a third-party claim?

It is not uncommon for workers’ comp to fall short of what a family needs to maintain its health and wellbeing while a key member recovers.

Third-party injury lawsuits aim to recover full compensation for your injuries and losses, which can include things like diminished future income, disfigurement, and long-term physical therapy.

If I’m injured on the job, can I sue my employer, too?

Probably not. In most cases, the state’s workers’ compensation program protects employers from employee injury liability. However, there are instances in which you can go after your employer in court. These circumstances include:

  • Intentional harm
  • Gross negligence
  • Employer’s relationship to the business or equipment that hurt you
  • You are an independent contractor

If I win a third-party claim, do I have to pay back my worker’s comp money?

Sometimes, yes. Depending on the state in which you were injured, you may be required to use a portion of your third-party claim settlement or verdict to partially reimburse the workers’ comp program and your employer.

How much money can I get from a third-party claim?

The amount of your final settlement or verdict will largely depend on the extent of your injuries, the available insurance, and the effects the injuries have had on your life. For the most part, a successful third-party lawsuit should cover all your lost income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other costs related to the accident.

What evidence is required for a third-party workplace injury claim?

Every state is different, but in general, there are four points that you must prove to be successful in your claim:

  • The third party owed you a duty of care
  • The third party failed to provide this care
  • Your injuries are directly related to the third party’s negligent action or inaction
  • Those injuries caused you actual losses or pain. These damages can include physical, as well as   mental injuries, disabilities, lost income and medical bills.

What are the most common types of workplace injuries?

The most frequent types of workplace accidents happen in the labor sector. The most common jobsite injuries include:

  • Overexertion (such as lifting, bending and tossing)
  • Falls, trips and slips
  • Falls from a higher level
  • Struck by object or equipment
  • Roadway incidents including car accidents
  • Slips or trips that do not include falling
  • Caught in or compressed by equipment
  • Repetitive motions including micro-tasks

Consider hiring a lawyer

There is a lot at stake when you are hurt on the job. Miss a deadline or forget to completely answer an application question and you may not be able to get any money for your serious work-related injuries.

A lawyer can help you realize the full value of your injury claim and decide whether a third-party injury lawsuit is right for you.

There’s no telling how long you may be out of work, recovering from your injuries. Most people can’t afford to miss a single paycheck. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your state can take on investigators and insurance agents to get you the compensation you deserve while you heal.

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