Understanding 3rd Party Claims In Worker’s Compensation Scenarios
A worker injured on the job is entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim without worrying about proving their employer’s negligence or that they were at fault for causing the work injury. Workers’ compensation benefits cover medical expenses, lost wages and partial disability benefits if the injury sustained is permanent in nature. Noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering are not covered under worker’s compensation. An injured or ill worker may recuperate benefits without proving their employer or a co-worker was at fault for the injury even if the worker themselves was at fault. When an injured worker accepts workers’ compensation benefits, he or she gives up the right to sue their employer as a trade-off for getting workers’ compensation benefits.
The worker however reserves the right to sue people other than their employer who is responsible for an injury suffered on the job or for an occupational illness. An employer may also have to compensate their employee for pre-existing conditions that may have worsened as a result of the worker’s duties. However, with huge amounts of money at stake, employers and their insurance companies often dispute workers’ compensation claims by contesting whether an injury or illness is work-related and the extent of the injury. The employer may also determine the choice of healthcare provider the required treatment. A worker who has suffered an injury on the job cannot sue his or her employer but they can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against any 3rd party that has caused an injury or illness.
For example, a company driver struck by another car on the job may recover workers’ compensation benefits from their employer and sue the driver of the car that hit them. In order to be successful in such a suit it is necessary to prove the 3rd party was at fault. An injured worker can recover damages through a 3rd -party liability suit that are not available in a workers’ compensation claim such as recuperation for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. For example, let’s say a construction worker is working on the same job site as other professionals such as electricians. The electrician leaves a live wire exposed without any warning, and you come into contact with it and sustain severe burn injuries. Although you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, you are also eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the electrician and you can demand to be compensated for noneconomic damages. Common examples of 3rd party liability may include:
- Car accidents in a company vehicle or while performing work-related tasks.
- Injuries caused by defective products in the workplace.
- Toxic chemical exposure due to a substance made by a 3rd party used at the workplace
- Property owners failing to remove hazards from their properties.
A 3rd party claim, for all intents and purposes is very similar to a personal injury lawsuit where you must prove negligence and fault of the 3rd party in order to prevail. There must be a mandatory duty, a breach of said duty, causation, and damages just like an auto accident claim.
If your employer or their insurance carrier is contesting your workers’ compensation claim, you need the services of an experienced work injury lawyers California to help you fend off these challenges so that you can obtain the benefits you need and deserve.