When you’ve been hurt on the job, your first course of action is typically to notify your employer and initiate the process to receive workers’ compensation benefits. But is that your only legal option? That depends.
Under the workers’ compensation laws, workers’ compensation benefits are intended to cover any injuries caused by the carelessness or negligence of your employer or a co-employee. They do not limit your rights to recover for losses caused by other parties. Accordingly, if you suffer injuries caused in part or in whole by someone other than your employer or a fellow employee, you can file a separate legal action to recover for those losses. Some common situations where a worker may seek damages in addition or instead of through a workers’ compensation claim include:
- Injuries caused in a work-related motor vehicle accident, if the at-fault driver was neither your employer nor a co-employee
- Injuries caused when a product, machine, tool or piece of equipment breaks down or malfunctions, causing an injury
- Injuries caused by a vendor, customer or other person not working for your employer
These types of lawsuits, known as “third party actions,” are outside of the workers’ compensation process and essentially take the form of civil lawsuits. Accordingly, with a third party action, you’ll have to go through discovery, file a complaint, and take your case to trial, if necessary. You may also have to wait months or years before you see any compensation. However, if your injuries were caused in part by your employer and in part by a third party, you can actually seek damages simultaneously through a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit.
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We handle all workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis. There will be no attorney fees unless we get compensation for your losses.