A third-party negligence claim is exactly what it sounds like and comes into play when more than one party is responsible for your accident or injury. Because you can name more than one defendant in a standard personal injury lawsuit, third-party negligence claims are most common in workplace injury cases, where some damages are covered by workers’ compensation. Insurance companies sometimes file third-party negligence claims via subrogation, as well.
Liability and Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance that your employer pays for. If you get hurt at work, you cannot sue your employer, and no one accepts liability for the accident. Instead, your employer and their insurance company pay for your medical bills and missed wages.
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation does not allow you to recover non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, nor does it grant punitive damages against your employer.
If anyone else was involved in your accident (i.e., a third party), you may be able to file a third-party negligence claim to obtain these damages and offset the expenses workers’ compensation does not cover.
Examples of a Third-Party in a Workplace Accident Case
Third-party negligence claims are common in the construction industry, as construction workers often work with more than just their employers. If you were injured on a construction site, you may be entitled to compensation, but the contractor, subcontractor, or property owner may be partially liable for your accident. While you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer, you can file a personal injury claim against anyone else who caused or contributed to your workplace injury.
Similarly, if you get into a car accident while driving for work, you can file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer and a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident.
Filing a third-party negligence claim is in your best interest, as insurance companies – from workers’ comp insurers to auto insurers – will likely go after the liable party even if you do not.
What Is Subrogation?
Subrogation is a legal process in which an insurance company pursues a third party that caused an insurance loss. For example, if your employers’ workers’ compensation provider paid you for injuries caused by a subcontractor or a drunk driver, the same insurer might then try to recover the money it paid you from the liable party.
Another way to think about subrogation is as a process in which an insurer files a lawsuit on your behalf to account for its own interests. Insurers can only keep the amount they paid out for a particular claim.
Conversely, if you file a lawsuit yourself, you can recover non-economic and punitive damages. That being said, insurers may also have a subrogation interest in your claim.
This essentially means that your insurer will be reimbursed for the money it paid you if you win your claim. Ultimately, you will still receive your insurance benefits (usually via workers’ comp) and the non-economic and punitive damages from the third-party negligence suit. In many civil cases, your lawyer will not charge any legal fees unless they win, and some of the damages you receive may help cover your legal expenses.
Managing Your Claims
Juggling your workers’ compensation claim and a third-party negligence claim is not easy to do. That’s why you need an attorney who can do both. At Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC, we have over 70 years of combined legal experience in both workers’ comp cases and personal injury lawsuits – and we have recovered more than $200 million for our injured clients.
We not only know how to take care of you during your time of need, but we also know how to win. Further, we never charge any legal fees unless we recover damages on your behalf.
Call us at (866) 675-4427 or contact us online to start experiencing our personal one-on-one service during a free consultation – we are available 24/7 to take your call.