Workers’ compensation is meant to provide financial benefits to someone who is hurt in the workplace. For the most part, workplace accidents occur when an employee makes a mistake in judgment that hurts themselves or another worker. This is not always the case, though.
There are times when a nonemployee causes a workplace accident that results in someone else’s injury. When this happens, third-party liability can change the way any injured parties seek compensation.
Who is a Third Party in the Workplace?
Essentially, anyone who is not employed by the same company as you is a third party when in your workplace. If you work in a retail store, then the most common third-party person you will encounter will be a customer. For office workers, third-party people could include clients or visitors from other offices, companies, firms, etc. In other occupations, third parties could be vendors and truckers bringing stock, contracted cleaning crews, patients who need medical care, and even safety inspectors coming to judge the overall safety of a worksite.
The common thread among all of these types of third parties is that they are not immediately employed in the same workplace as the injured worker.
What Compensation is Available in a Third-Party Accident?
Third-party liability in a workplace accident allows the injured worker to file a personal injury claim against the person who caused their injuries. For example, if a customer in a grocery store crashes their shopping cart into a worker, causing serious injuries, then that worker could try to sue that shopper for their damages. The issue with lawsuits against shoppers, in particular, is that there is rarely any applicable insurance coverage for such mistakes, so the potential of getting a meaningful payout is low.
In a more promising example of third-party liability, imagine that a pizza delivery driver is hit by a drunk driver while making a delivery. Third-party liability would be placed on that other driver, who would then be represented by their insurance company. The damages provided there would be predictably more useful than the other example since the driver should have some sort of applicable insurance coverage.
What both of these examples have in common, though, is the fact that both workers are still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even if they each file a third-party injury claim. When a worker is hurt in their workplace or while fulfilling a required task of employment – like driving around town to deliver food to customers – workers’ compensation should apply. This system is entirely separate from a personal injury claim, so there is no conflict of legalities. Typically, an injured worker cannot get workers’ compensation and file an injury claim against their employer.
How Should You Handle a Third-Party Liability Claim?
If you are hurt by a customer, vendor, patient, etc. at work, how should you handle the situation? The right approach is treating the situation like a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit because, in many ways, it is.
You need to gather evidence of what happened to prove liability in your third-party claim. But you also need to notify your employer as soon as possible to make an official accident report that can be taken to their workers’ compensation insurance provider. You need to see a doctor to diagnose and validate your injuries. But you will probably need to see one on a shortlist of approved medical providers as set by the workers’ comp insurance company.
Trying to figure out this balance of handling both a workers’ compensation claim and personal injury claim at the same time can be difficult, especially when you are feeling winded from an accident and just want to rest. To boost your chances of success without the risk of saying the wrong thing in one or the other, you should work with a law firm that handles both types of claims. Leonard Law Group in Chicago does just that.
Give us a call at (312) 487-2513 if you were hurt at work by a third party. We can help you prepare both a workers’ comp claim and an injury claim to maximize the amount of compensation you can collect, just as you deserve.