What is a Third Party Claim?
Workers’ compensation claims are specific to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance and only cover your medical bills and lost wages. If you qualify for specific loss or death benefits if you are a dependent of a loved one who has lost their life due to a work injury, those are covered as well by workers’ comp insurance.
When you file a third-party personal injury claim, however, you can receive financial compensation for damages such as:
- Pain and suffering related to the injury or illness
- Wrongful death and loss of consortium in the event of a fatal injury or disease
- Cost of mental health treatments
- Punitive damages, ie financial damages designed to punish the responsible party for their recklessness or negligence
If your injury or occupational disease was caused by someone other than a co-worker or your employer, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit known as a third party claim against the at-fault person or company.
In Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation law prohibits you from filing a personal injury claim against your employer due to a work-related injury. Instead, workers’ compensation insurance exists to cover work-related injuries sustained during the course and scope of your job.
However, you have the right to file a claim against any third party, so long as they are neither your employer or co-worker.
Third-party claims can provide the extra compensation that you need to recover damages other than those covered under workers’ compensation.
Examples of third party negligence claims related to a workplace injury include:
- Service professionals whose job it is to repair and maintain equipment if they fail to properly maintain or fix vehicles, machinery or equipment necessary to your job
- The driver of another vehicle if you were involved in a car or truck accident while performing work duties
- The owner of a dangerous property if hazardous conditions at the property caused your injury or illness
- Maintenance professionals if their neglect or recklessness led to your injury or illness; such as snow and ice removal professionals if you have slipped on ice on a work site
- Equipment manufacturer. If your injury was caused by a defective product, the manufacturer of that product might be liable for your injury.
- Chemical manufacturer or manufacturer of other potentially toxic substances. If you have developed an occupational disease from the exposure to a dangerous substance such as asbestos, the manufacture might be legally responsible for damages.
- Manufacturer of protective equipment. If the safety equipment you were using to keep you safe during your job duties, failed and you were injured or have become sick, the manufacturer might be liable.
- Government entity. If you encounter unmarked public utilities or you were not properly warned about electrical or gas lines, the government third party might be responsible for damages in a third-party claim.
- Construction site managers. If you are injured on a construction site during the course of your daily job duties, a third party might be responsible for your illness or injury.
How does a third party claim differ from workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that if you have been injured at work or you have become sick from the conditions at work, you have the right to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of whether you were at fault, your employer was at fault for the accident, incident or environmental conditions.
A worker may file a claim for benefits whether or not they or the company were negligent in the accident or for the environment that caused an illness or long-term injury.
You can claim workers’ compensation and also file a third party lawsuit
If you are hurt while on the job and a third party is at fault, you can file for workers’ compensation and also file a claim for financial damages against the negligent third party.
The waiver of rights to sue an employer while receiving workers compensation benefits does not apply to a negligent third party.
What qualifies as a third-party injury?
There are many different types of accidents and injuries that may result in a third-party claim. Some of the most common third party injuries at the workplace include;
- Car accidents, truck crashes, and other traffic accidents
- Use of faulty products due to flawed design, manufacturing imperfection, insufficient or absent safety warnings
- Exposure to toxins and other poisonous substances
- Construction site accidents
- Property liability due to owner’s negligence such as an animal bite
- Slips and falls on poorly maintained property
How do I know that I have a third-party claim?
If you have been injured at work, developed a long term illness or injury or you have aggravated an existing injury or disease due to working conditions and you think a third party might be responsible, call the personal injury attorneys at Munley Law today. We have more than 60 years of experience fighting for PA workers. Your consultation is free and we will charge you nothing until we win your case.