In New Jersey, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that provides benefits to workers injured on the job regardless of how a workplace accident occurred. In exchange for this right to payments, injured employees give up the right to sue their employer and any negligent co-workers for compensation for their injuries. However, workers’ compensation laws do not bar workers from pursuing claims against other negligent parties who contributed to their accident.
Common Claims Against Third-Parties in Workplace Accident Cases
A third-party claim is a claim for compensation that an employee may have against a party other than his employer or co-worker. A worker could have this claim if another person’s negligence caused or contributed to his workplace accident. Examples of potentially liable third parties include the following:
- Drivers. Salespersons, truck drivers, delivery drivers, taxi and rideshare drivers, and construction workers are just a few of the workers who must drive regularly for their jobs. Even people who work at one location may need to run a work-related errand. If another driver’s negligence is the cause of an employee’s car accident, he may be entitled to compensation from the driver for his injuries.
- Subcontractors. In some cases, a subcontractor will work on a project or at a construction site. If the subcontractor or his employees were negligent in causing an accident, injured workers could pursue a claim against these parties.
- Non-employee supervisors. On large projects, such as a commercial construction site or industrial plant, a non-employee engineer or developer may oversee the operations. If negligence was the cause of an accident—often the case—a worker may have a claim against the supervisor and the company he works for or owns.
- Manufacturers. Workers in many industries use heavy machinery, equipment, and power tools when doing their jobs. Many suffer long-term injuries or death if they are crushed between machinery parts, struck, burned, or electrocuted when the machinery or tools malfunction. If a design or manufacturing defect was the cause of the worker’s injuries, he may have a products liability claim against the manufacturer.
- Property or business owners. Some workers are injured when performing tasks at a business or residence or work in a building maintained by another property or business owner. If an employee is hurt in a slip and fall or other accident on the property due to a hazardous condition, he may have a separate claim of negligence against the owner of the property.
Why Do You Need to File a Third-Party Claim When You Are Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
You may be reluctant to pursue a claim against another party if you are already entitled to workers’ compensation benefits—especially if you must fight for the benefits you deserve. However, workers’ compensation benefits only pay you for your medical expenses, a fixed portion of your wages, rehabilitation costs, and a set payment for a permanent disability. When filing a claim against a third party, you may be able to secure all the compensation to which you are entitled.
One of the key differences between these claims is that you can receive compensation for your pain and suffering when pursuing a third-party claim but not under workers’ compensation laws. This can be a huge portion of your claim if you suffered a serious injury causing chronic pain or limiting your ability to work and perform your day-to-day activities.
In addition, you can receive the full compensation that you are owed for your wage losses if you are able to file a third-party claim. This can include lost sick and vacation time, commissions, bonuses, promotions, and lost earning capacity if you will suffer a loss of income due to a career change or are permanently disabled. By filing a third-party claim—if this is possible—you increase the likelihood that you will be fully compensated for your injuries.
You Need an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Pursue Your Third-Party Claims
Filing a workers’ compensation case and pursuing third-party claims can be complex. You need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to identify all liable parties, obtain the evidence you need to prove your right to compensation, and negotiate your settlements. Learn about my experience helping injured workers by watching my testimonials. Then call my office to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.