Workers’ compensation benefits were designed to give workers a degree of financial security after work-related injuries. These benefits are effective because they don’t depend on proving the employer was at fault for the accident and they cover medical bills and part of a worker’s wage while the injured worker recovers.
However, there are limitations on workers’ compensation benefits, and workers’ comp doesn’t fully compensate employees for all the damages they’ve suffered after certain types of on-the-job injuries.
Workers’ compensation claims aren’t the only legal option for injured workers. Third-party liability claims are very different than work comp claims, and there are several situations in which third-party claims provide more value to injured workers.
What Is a Third-Party Liability Claim?
Third-party liability claims are filed by an injured worker against a non-employer for damages related to a work-related injury. Unlike work comp claims, third-party claims are based on fault.
And though work comp claims typically cover only medical bills and roughly two-thirds of a worker’s wages, third-party claims don’t have those limitations. They can cover larger amounts of compensation, including non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Let’s look at how third-party liability claims might play out for an injured worker.
An Example of Third-Party Liability Claims
John is a regional salesperson for WePrint, a company that makes and sells printers. Part of his job is traveling to various printer distributors in Massachusetts. While driving to one of those distributors, John is struck by a distracted driver.
Because John’s injuries were suffered on the job, he has every right to file a workers’ compensation claim. He can receive two-thirds of his weekly wages through WePrint’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage while he recovers, in addition to the injury-related medical bills he faces.
However, because John’s injury was caused by a third party (the distracted driver), John can also file an injury claim against the at-fault party. In that claim, he can seek compensation far greater than he’d receive through a workers’ compensation claim.
Aside from work-related auto accidents, third-party claims can also involve the manufacturers of equipment that injures a worker on the job or property owners who fail to keep their premises safe when it leads to workplace injuries.
Can You File a Work Comp Claim and a Third-Party Liability Claim?
It’s possible to file both a workers’ compensation and a third-party liability claim for the same accident. However, if you have a successful claim against a third party (meaning that you win compensation), a subrogation clause will likely be enacted by your employer’s insurance company. That means that you will be asked to pay back the insurer from the compensation you received in the third-party claim.
The potential rewards of a successful third-party liability claim are usually larger than the amount received in a workers’ compensation claim, so paying back the work comp insurer isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker for many injured workers.
What Kind of Case Do You Have?
If you’ve been injured on the job, you might not be sure what path is best for you – filing a workers’ compensation claim against your employer or a personal injury claim against the at-fault third party. If a third party’s negligence contributed to your injury, you should at least explore your legal options. You don’t want to forgo your right to a third-party claim if your damages won’t be addressed by work comp benefits alone.
Contact Jason Stone for a Free Consultation
At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we have years of experience helping injured workers get the compensation they need to move forward after a workplace injury. Contact our Boston worker injury attorneys anytime to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.