Accidents that harm workers on the job and illnesses caused by workplace exposures are often caused by more than one contributing factor. Sometimes a major factor is a third party’s carelessness. Therefore, a person affected by a work-related incident or exposure may have more than one avenue for recovering relevant damages to address their losses.
It may seem straightforward to assume that your work-related injury or illness should be covered by your employer’s Workers’ Compensation policy, but when a third party may bear responsibility for the matter, there may be other, potentially more financially advantageous ways to seek reparation for your injury or illness.
This discussion explains how to assess a third party’s liability in your situation; how such liability might affect your Workers’ Compensation claim; and how to pursue your rights to the fullest, beyond what might be covered through your employer alone.
What Types of Damages Are Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?
In general, employees injured or sickened at work are covered by Workers’ Compensation that provides the following forms of recompense after a work accident or exposure:
- Coverage for medical bills for all expenses related to diagnosing and treating your work-related injury or illness
- Coverage for lost wages suffered while you were unable to work because of your on-the-job injury or illness
What Types of Work Accidents Involve Third-Party Negligence?
Some work accidents and exposures happen as a result of interactions with careless outside vendors or clients or contact with faulty third-party products. Some incidents that involve third-party negligence include:
- Occupational drivers who become injured in a car accident while behind the wheel for work
- A manual laborer who gets hurt using a defective tool on the job
- A worker who becomes exposed to an improperly labeled substance at work
- An employee who suffers a work injury caused by the careless actions of someone employed by a vendor or client
What Are the Limitations of Workers’ Compensation?
When a work injury prevents someone from working, the temporary disability available through Workers’ Compensation may offer only a percentage of their regular pay. Another drawback is that, unlike other legal avenues, a Workers’ Compensation claim does not offer payments for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or other losses that affect one’s ability to live a normal life.
Significantly, Workers’ Compensation claims sidestep the question of negligence. This employee benefit program simply provides a way for an injured or sick employee to access funds to cover the medical and financial costs of their work injury without either side trying to prove who caused the accident or exposure that led to the injury.
This benefits the employee and the employer in different ways. Protection exists to provide compensatory assistance to the employee while prohibiting them from seeking additional compensation through a lawsuit against their employer. In some cases, it may be better to seek further compensation through a lawsuit, but the advantage to Workers’ Compensation is that you do not have to prove what happened, only that your injury is real and work related.
How Can a Third-Party Personal Injury Case Offer a Greater Payout?
In contrast to a Workers’ Compensation arrangement that evades the issue of fault, the foundation of a personal injury case is the issue of negligence.
When a third party is to blame for your injury, your Workers’ Compensation benefits do not prevent you from pursuing a lawsuit against those responsible for fair monetary compensation for your injuries. Generally, a third party in a work accident must not be a co-worker or supervisor, but rather someone employed by an entity other than your own employer.
What Legal Requirements Must Exist for a Third-Party Claim to Be Successful?
For a third-party injury claim to be successful, the existence of three things must be proved:
- The at-fault third party had a duty of care to prevent the injury.
- The injury was caused by the third party’s negligence.
- Losses resulted from the injury, such as medical expenses, lost income, and other damages.
What Damages Are Available through a Third-Party Personal Injury Claim?
Depending on the facts of the case, a third-party personal injury claim may offer the following damages:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Projected future medical costs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life pleasures
- Property damage
How Does My Personal Injury Case Affect My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Filing for Workers’ Compensation does not prevent you from seeking a third-party claim, but if your claim is successful, your employer may file to be reimbursed for the damages you received from the program. In some states, it is required to return the money to your employer.
Filing for Workers’ Compensation is still recommended, however, because the program is meant to provide easier and quicker access to funds to help you after your work accident. However, a third-party claim may cover more of your lost income and is the only way to pursue non-economic or punitive damages.
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC Represent Workers Hurt by Third-Party Negligence
If you had a work accident that was caused by the negligence of a third party, you should be able to collect damages from the person or entity responsible for your injuries. The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC can help you identify who was to blame in your accident and support your case for compensation by seeking out evidence to support your claim and helping to determine the size award or settlement you should seek. Call us at 856-751-7676 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our offices are in Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Trenton, and Vineland, New Jersey; and Trevose, Pennsylvania. We serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.