Third Party Lawsuits in Workers’ Compensation Case
In certain workers’ compensation cases, third parties may be liable to pay a third party lawsuit settlement in the event of a work-related injury.
In most workers’ compensation claims, employees give up the right to file a lawsuit against their employer because they collect workers’ compensation benefits. Employers purchase workers’ comp benefits to protect their employees in the event of a work-related injury or occupational illness.
However, even if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you may be able to collect additional compensation by filing a third-party liability lawsuit against the individual or entity responsible for causing your work injury. Workers’ comp is generally paid out without regard to fault. However, you must be able to prove negligence and liability if you are pursuing a third-party lawsuit.
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Employer Obligations to Employees
All employers in Pennsylvania are required to purchase workers’ compensation protection coverage. This insurance coverage will provide employees with compensation for their medical expenses, a portion of their lost wages, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and death benefits for surviving family members of those who pass away from on-the-job injuries.
These benefits can be collected while the employee is recuperating from their injuries and continue until they can return to work or reach the maximum number of weeks allowable based on the type of injury they are diagnosed with.
Employers that failed to protect their employees with workers comp protection may find themselves at risk of criminal charges and being named in the injured workers’ third-party liability lawsuit.
When Employees Can File a Third Party Workplace Injury Liability Claim
Employees generally cannot file a direct claim against their workplaces for negligence. However, there are multiple exceptions where an employee can sue an employer. This is generally possible if the employer does not have workers comp insurance coverage in place.
Employees can also file a third-party liability claim against third parties who may have contributed to their on-the-job injuries. For example, if you work in construction and fell from a scaffold because the parts used to build a scaffold were defective or malfunctioning, you may have grounds for a claim against the scaffold manufacturer.
You can rely on your workers’ compensation or personal injury attorney to thoroughly investigate the specific details of your case so we can pursue workers’ compensation and third-party liability claims where appropriate and ensure all parties who contributed to your injuries are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
The Liability Of Third Parties in Workers’ Comp Cases
Third parties can be liable for different reasons that depend on your state’s liability laws and how the accident happened.
Common Types of Third Party Lawsuits
Here are some of the most common instances in which you may have grounds for a third-party lawsuit after a work-related accident:
Product Liability Claims
Manufacturers and sellers of all types of tools, equipment, and machines that employees use during their employment.
For example, if a worker is injured because a forklift malfunctions due to defective brakes or because scaffolding materials used during construction were unstable, the employee can file a product liability claim.
In this example, the employer will usually not be liable for a construction accident if it was caused by third-party equipment.
In these cases, the worker does not have to prove the manufacturer was negligent. He or she can seek a third party lawsuit settlement if the product is defective and the defect caused harm.
Third-Party Lawsuits For Negligence Claims
Any person who causes a work injury and is not employed by the employer can be a third party defendant. Co-workers employed by your employer cannot be part of a third-party liability claim:
- Architects who design unsafe buildings can be liable for poor-quality designs.
- Contractors that caused a construction site accident at your place of work.
- Snow clean-up crews hired by the employer can be liable if a worker falls.
- Property owners can be liable if a worker is injured while visiting their site – for example, when a salesperson visits a client.
- Contractors and subcontractors may be liable for third party workers’ compensation claims, especially in the construction industry.
- Companies that service equipment may be liable for failing to maintain the equipment or failing to take it out of service.
- A car or truck driver in an auto accident if your work involves driving.
Breach Of Warranty Claims
Makers of products generally warrant that the products they sell will be safe for their intended use. Defective products that cause injury, for example, are an example of a third-party’s negligence.
Damages Employees Can Recover Via a Third Party Lawsuit
Unlike workers’ compensation claims, third party lawsuits allow the worker to demand damages for the worker’s pain and suffering. Workers can demand all the lost wages that weren’t paid through the worker’s compensation case.
Workers can file both a workers’ compensation claim and a third party claim. The good news for the worker is that the worker should receive wage loss benefits and get the medical care needed while the personal injury claim is pending.
To claim pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and punitive damages, the injured worker must seek a third party lawsuit agreement through an independent personal injury lawsuit. That can include a negligent worker, a defective product manufacturer, or any other third party that should be responsible.
The Right of Subrogation Under Third Party Liability Laws
In addition to the injured employee’s claims, employers can make their own demands in a third party lawsuit.
They can demand that the third party reimburse them for all of the funds they paid to the employee. This typically includes all the wages they paid the worker and all the medical bills they paid for the employee.
Experienced third party workers’ compensation lawyers can explain who can claim damages and how the employer is reimbursed. Also, read our article about subrogation in workers’ compensation.
Contact Us Today To Discuss Your Third-Party Workers’ Comp Lawsuit
The workers’ comp lawyers at the law firm of Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo have been fighting for injured workers for more than 80 years. We review every aspect of your claim, including your right to seek a third party workers’ compensation settlement.
Call us now at (844) 243-4836 or complete our online contact form for your free consultation today.