For the vast majority of employees in this country, workers’ compensation is a huge safety net. If you’re injured on the job, you know that workers’ comp will be there to make sure that your injuries get treated and you have some financial security.
Many times, workers’ comp is an injured employee’s only option for recovery – but there are exceptions. If somebody other than you, your employer or a co-worker (or even a business, like a manufacturer of defective products) contributed to your injuries through their reckless, negligent or deliberate actions, you may have the right to pursue a third-party personal injury claim against that person or other entity in civil court.
Why could a third-party claim be important?
Usually, it comes down to economics. While workers’ comp covers the medical expenses related to your injuries and part of your lost wages, you can usually recover a lot more through a personal injury claim – including non-economic damages for your pain and suffering or emotional distress. That can help bridge the gap between your worker’s comp benefits and your usual income.
Pursuing a third-party claim can also help you hold someone accountable for their actions. That can ultimately make you feel like you’ve obtained a measure of justice when someone was negligent, and it can even help prevent future accidents.
What are some examples of possible third-party claims?
Every situation is unique, but here are some common examples of situations that can lead to third-party claims:
- Car accidents: Imagine, for example, that you’re a delivery driver and another vehicle plows into you from behind when you’re at a stop because the other driver was distracted. You could file a third-party claim against the driver.
- Defective products: Suppose for a moment that you’re a factory worker, and a new machine breaks on its first day of use because it was poorly constructed, injuring you. You might have a claim against the machine’s manufacturer or distributor.
- Slips and falls: If you go sliding across an over-waxed floor in your office because a cleaning company didn’t put up warning signs and get hurt, they might bear the liability for your fall.
- Toxic exposures: If a chemical supplier improperly labeled a dangerous substance or didn’t have it stored correctly and you end up sick from exposure, they may be responsible for your losses.
It can be difficult to ascertain whether you have grounds upon which you could effectively pursue a third-party claim or not without getting an experienced legal take on the specifics of your situation. As a result, seeking legal guidance is probably wise.