Injured Workers Shouldn’t Overlook Possible Third-Party Claims
Picture an all too familiar scene: A large factory with numerous employees, nearing the end of second shift. The floor is covered with scraps, shavings, etc., making it difficult to move around safely.
Although several complaints have been logged, nothing has been done to correct this dangerous situation. Then it happens: an employee trips on a piece of scrap and sustains serious injuries.
The employee's medical bills are substantial. And of course, the employee misses a great deal of work. Fortunately, workers' compensation benefits are paid. However, the employee is quite angry at the employer for not correcting this dangerous situation in the first place. He contacts a lawyer and demands that the employer be sued for negligence. Much to the employee's surprise, the lawyer says "we can't."
The general rule is if you are hurt at work, even if it's your employer's fault, you cannot sue your employer. As with any rule, however, there are exceptions. If your employer doesn't carry workers' compensation insurance, you may be able to sue for negligence. Also, in rare cases you may be able to sue for damages if the employer intentionally injures you.
Our experts look for third-party claims
However, employees do have one other very important recourse when injured on the job. We call it a third-party suit. What it means is that you can sue persons or companies other than your employer if they were somehow negligent in causing your injury.
Here's and example. Let's say a worker loses his arm while using an industrial saw. Later it is found that the saw should have been manufactured with a special guard to prevent such injuries. While the company's workers' compensation insurance would still cover the employee's medical bills and lost time at work, the employee might have an additional claim against the saw manufacturer. Further, there may be other parties outside the employer who negligently tampered with the machine. Clearly, injuries caused by work accidents can raise a number of complicated questions. At SiebenCarey, our attorneys and investigators are trained to look for third-party claims. If you are injured at work - no matter how straight forward it looks - contact us.