The Role of Third-Party Liability in Your Workers' Comp Claim

When a worker suffers an injury on the job, he or she can file a workers’ compensation claim without worrying about having to prove his or her employer was at fault for causing the work injury. However, workers’ comp benefits only cover medical expenses, your lost wages from not working (66 2/3) and partial disability benefits if your injury is permanent in nature. Workers compensation does not cover noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.

What is a Third-Party?

In some cases, the injured worker can also bring a Personal Injury lawsuit against a “third party.” Third-party liability refers to an injury caused by an employee due to the negligence or recklessness of a third party other than an employer. These cases may occur when a person or entity that is separate from the employer causes the workplace accident.

For example, let’s say you are a construction worker who works on the same job site as other contractors, such as an electrician. The electrician who works there leaves a live wire exposed without any warning, resulting in you coming into contact with it and causing severe burns. While you may seek workers’ comp benefits, you may also be eligible to file a Personal Injury lawsuit against the electrician since he does not technically work for your employer.

Other common examples of third-party liability include:

  • Car accidents in a company vehicle or while performing work-related tasks on the road.
  • With injuries caused by defective products, you can hold the product manufacturer liable for the accident.
  • Toxic chemical exposure by a substance made by a third-party company
  • Property owners who fail to remove hazards from their properties, causing workers to be injured while visiting these properties as part of their work duties.

With third-party liability claims, you must prove the third party’s negligence and fault, or other wrongful acts or omissions. There needs to be a duty present, a breach of duty, causation, and damages. In cases where a worker was injured by a defective product, it may be possible to raise a strict liability claim in which the product manufacturer can be held liable just by proving that there was a defect and that it caused the plaintiff’s harm.

When an injured worker claims that a third-party caused his or her injury, the company’s insurance company may have a subrogation interest in the claim and can enforce the third party’s liability in the name of the injured worker.

For more information, contact Leonard Law Group and request a free consultation with our Chicago work injury attorney today.

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