A third party refers to someone who is not part of a dispute. In a workers’ compensation claim, a third party is someone who caused the worker’s injury but is not the employer or the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Limited
Being injured at work can cause significant financial hardship. Most Florida employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance. For injured workers, filing a workers’ compensation claim allows them to receive medical treatment for their injuries.
However, workers’ compensation benefits are limited. The workers’ compensation insurance provider should pay the reasonable and necessary costs of medical treatment. You may also be entitled to receive disability benefits if you cannot work because of a work injury.
Unfortunately, you do not receive reimbursement for all loss of income. Workers’ compensation only pays two-thirds of your lost wages. Furthermore, you do not receive any compensation for pain and suffering damages.
A worker who is out of work for a substantial period could experience tremendous losses because of a work-related injury. However, if another party caused the injury, the injured worker could have a third-party claim.
What Is a Third-Party Claim?
Workers’ compensation is typically the only recourse an injured employee has after a workplace accident. Employers are protected from being sued by injured employees by providing workers’ compensation insurance.
However, some work injuries are caused by a third party. A third party could be:
- A manufacturer who produced a defective product
- An individual who negligently caused the accident
- A general contractor, company, or property owner whose oversight contributed to the cause of the worker’s injury
A third-party claim is a personal injury case against the party who caused the employee’s injury. Because it is not a workers’ compensation claim, the worker could recover more compensation than they could receive for a workers’ compensation claim. However, the worker must prove negligence to receive compensation for a third-party claim.
What Do I Need To Prove for a Third-Party Claim?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. The injured employee does not need to prove negligence to recover workers’ comp benefits. Instead, the employee must prove that the injury occurred during the ordinary course of employment.
However, for a third-party claim, the injured employee has the burden of proving fault for the cause of the injury. Most third-party claims are based on negligence. Proving a negligence claim requires you to have evidence establishing:
- The third party owed you a legal duty of care
- The third party breached the duty of care
- The third party’s breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injury
- You sustained damages because of the third-party’s conduct
For example, suppose another driver causes a car accident while you are traveling from your office to a job site. In that case, you might be able to sue the driver for damages.
However, some third-party claims could be based on other forms of liability. For example, strict liability could apply to third-party claims involving a defective product. A product manufacturer could be held liable if your injury was caused by a defective tool or defective equipment.
In some cases, vicarious liability could apply. An employer may be held liable if an employee causes your injury. In cases of abnormally dangerous activities, strict liability could apply.
What Types of Damages Are Available for a Third-Party Claim?
Because a third-party claim is a civil action, you could receive compensation for all economic damages. Financial losses could include:
- All loss of income, including future lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- The cost of long-term nursing care or personal care
- Out-of-pocket expenses and costs
- The cost of medical treatment and therapy
You can also claim non-economic damages. These damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you sustained because of the injury. Those damages include:
- A decrease in your quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain
- Disabilities and permanent impairments
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, your fault for the cause of your injury could be used against you in a third-party claim. The defense may argue that your actions contributed to the cause of your injury. According to Florida contributory fault laws, your compensation can be reduced by the percentage of blame you have for causing the injury.
Can I File Both a Workers’ Compensation Claim and a Third-Party Claim?
You can file both claims after a workplace injury. However, before filing your claims, it is best to talk to an experienced Boca Raton workplace accident lawyer. An attorney provides an honest and complete assessment of your legal options for recovering compensation for a work-related injury.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Boca Raton Workplace Injury Lawyer
If you were injured on the job, our legal team can help. Contact our law firm at (561) 347-7770 to schedule a free consultation with a Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers at Boca Raton workplace accident lawyer.