You have a right to pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit against a third party when they cause a workplace accident. If the accident is not due to your work specifically and your employer is not the reason for the accident, workers’ compensation might not cover the full extent of your expenses.
Investigating fault for injury claims is a complicated process and one that is helpful to have a personal injury attorney to help you navigate. Workplace injuries could be the fault of a variety of parties as many people move through worksites and offices.
We’ll explain what you need to know about third-party workplace injuries and describe the difference between these claims compared to workers’ compensation claims.
What Is a Third-Party Workplace Claim?
To understand third-party workplace claims, you first have to understand what workers’ compensation is. This covers you for medical expenses and a portion of your regular wages when you cannot return to work due to injuries sustained while carrying out your job.
Workers’ compensation is not a lawsuit and if you file for workers’ compensation, you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer.
In contrast, a third-party workplace claim is either an insurance claim or a lawsuit against a party that is not your employer. Some examples of third-party workplace claims include:
- Workers not employed by the same company as you
- Property owners
- Tenants within the same office building as you
- Janitorial companies
- Maintenance companies
Basically, you have a right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against anyone responsible for a workplace injury, except for your employer. This also applies to other active employees for the company you work for. You cannot generally file a lawsuit against them while they are actively employed by the same company as you.
Workers’ Compensation vs. Third-Party Workplace Claims
No matter who causes your injuries on the job, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation. However, this coverage does not provide compensation for pain and suffering or mental anguish. Therefore, if your injuries are caused by someone not related to your employer, you can file a third-party workplace claim to pursue this area of compensation.
When employees suffer injuries that they cannot control due to someone else’s negligence, a third party is often at fault. Some common third-party workplace claims include:
- Car accidents when someone is actively engaged in work (not commuting to and from their job)
- Slip and fall accidents
- Defective tools or machinery injuries
- Property owner negligence in maintaining safe grounds and causing dangerous work conditions
- Toxic substances
Third-party lawsuits allow you to receive full compensation for your lost wages, overtime, and future wages when you can no longer work in the capacity you had been, whereas workers’ compensation claims generally cover a percentage of your regular wages.
Reimbursing Workers’ Compensation Benefits if You Receive a Settlement or Insurance Payout
If you succeed in filing a third-party claim and get insurance money or a lawsuit settlement, the workers’ compensation insurance company might file a claim for reimbursement for the money they paid you.
The process is called subrogation and the law allows for it. However, the workers’ compensation insurance company can only ask for reimbursement for the money it paid out and not any additional payments you received for things like pain and suffering or money above and beyond the workers’ compensation claim.
If you have questions about third-party work claims, schedule a free consultation with Geoff McDonald & Associates. We’ll explain your rights and help assess your case to better understand who is at fault.