Workplace accidents can happen anywhere — often unexpectedly. And if you’re injured, you might think about filing a workers’ compensation claim. But if you were injured by a third party at work, you might also be able to file an additional civil claim against that party. And that’s when things can get complicated.
Liability and third-party workplace injuries
A work-related injury caused by a third party — someone who is not an employee of the organization — can occur in a variety of circumstances. For example, a third party’s equipment may be defective and injure an employee. Or a subcontractor who wasn’t properly vetted or trained by an employer may use tools or machinery improperly and injure an employee. Other examples can include working with poorly maintained equipment, car accidents that occur while working, suffering workplace violence or sexual assault, or being exposed to toxic chemicals at the workplace.
Whatever the circumstances, the three most important factors in establishing that a third party is liable for a work-related injury are as follows:
- Duty: The third party owed the employee a duty of care.
- Breach of that duty: The third party failed to act as a reasonable person would and did not meet their duty to exercise care.
- Causation: Because of this, the third party’s actions (or lack thereof) caused the employee’s workplace injuries.
Pros and cons of third-party workplace lawsuits
Filing a workers’ compensation claim is pretty straightforward. You don’t have to prove that anyone was at fault. You only have to show that you were at work when you were injured. And you will likely receive your compensation quickly.
But with a third-party lawsuit, you’ll have to prove that a third party’s negligence or intentional action caused your injury. A lawsuit will take more time than a workers’ compensation claim. And, in some cases, if you win, you may have to pay back part of your workers’ compensation.
However, filing a third-party claim has important benefits. For one thing, in many states, workers’ comp claims are often limited in amount — sometimes to only two-thirds of the employee’s salary — or in duration. And third-party lawsuits can cover injuries that workers’ comp won’t, such as pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, and diminished quality of life.
Navigating the legal system can be daunting, but luckily, there are ways to protect your rights and get all the compensation you deserve.
The right law firm for workplace injury claims against a third party
If you’re injured at work by a third party, it’s extremely important that you seek legal advice. It’s not just about knowing your rights. The right lawyer can help you navigate the court system, decide the best course of action for your injury claim, and understand how settlements and nondisclosure agreements can work.
In some states, worker’s compensation can be limited, so filing a civil lawsuit against a third party is sometimes your best chance to get fair compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury lawyer will have expertise in both workers’ compensation law, working with insurance companies and, if necessary, taking a civil claim against the third party to trial. And the help of an experienced lawyer is the best way to handle unforeseen legal and financial problems arising from your injury.
Remember, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit can vary from state to state, and the clock starts the moment you’ve been injured. So, it’s crucial to act promptly. If you’ve been injured by a third party at work, reach out to the workers’ compensation and injury lawyers at Hunter & Everage to discuss your options.