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Although an injured employee who sustains an industrial injury while in the course and scope of their employment may recover Worker’s compensation benefits from their employer without regard to fault/negligence of either party, there may be circumstances where that employee was injured by the fault/negligence of a “third party”.  In such circumstances, the employee is considered the first party, the employer the second party and the negligent or at fault other person or entity is third party.

In these cases, the injured worker has both his/her remedies available through the Workers’ Compensation System, as well as the ability to file a claim/lawsuit for damages against the liable third party.

The injured employee, in his or her third party action may seek damages for all losses suffered because of the negligence, action or failure to act of the third party. And, unlike Workers’ Compensation cases, the injured can recover as damages in a third party claim such things as actual loss of income, loss of future income, loss of earning capacity (because he/she is not the same healthy unimpaired  individual) and pain and suffering.  There may even be a claim for punitive damages against the responsible third party person or entity.

Given the fact that these third party cased include recovery of damages that are not available to the injured through their Worker’s Compensation claim, it is important to always get detailed facts as to how a certain injury occurred to determine whether the accident or injury includes third party liability.  Such cases often recover significantly more for the injured worker than they can recover through their Worker’s Compensation claim alone.  This can, in certain cases, be hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

Although there are an untold number of ways that there may be a third party responsible for an employees injuries, some of the most common involve the following:

  • An automobile/truck accident when the employee is working;
  • Premises liability – often where the employee is injured while at a location other that their employer’s place of work. For example, when delivering, picking up or working at premises publicly or privately owned and they sustain an injury due to  the condition of the premises or the donation of something located on the premises;
  • Slips and falls – off of buildings, ladders, scaffolds, lifts, or even ground level flooring, which can involve actions for premises and product liability actions even against other contractors on a construction site;
  • Products liability – injuries caused by a defective or faulty product or defective design example;
  • Construction site or other work site locations involving other employers, workers of companies – which can include actions versus subcontractors or general contractors on the jobsite who contributed to the employee’s injuries;

These are just a few of the more common occurrences involving third party liability.  a full list would be endless.  What is important, however, is that you share all facts no matter how minor or insignificant you might think that they are with your attorney and that you make a point to ask your attorney whether or not he or she has evaluated your claim as to the potential of third party liability.

Finally, in today’s day and age – when you are injured, take pictures of the area of the incident, the materials, equipment, vehicles or  other implements that may have contributed to your injury.  It could be something as simple as tripping over something or slipping on something. Take  pictures!

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