Unsafe working conditions are a threat to employees and their families. Workers’ compensation entitles you to benefits to pay for medical bills and lost wages because of injuries on the job. Even if your company properly followed safety protocols, a third party could be liable for additional damages for your pain and suffering. The details might qualify your case for a personal injury lawsuit.
Consider the construction industry or a factory. There is inherent risk working alongside heavy equipment and machinery such as cranes, backhoes, metal cutters and drill presses. The company managing the job site is responsible for adhering to federal and state safety standards and protecting its workers. But not every piece of equipment or material is always under their control.
What is third-party liability?
A third party essentially means someone or some entity that is not your employer or a co-worker. Think about a logging truck that rolls into a sawmill. If the driver fails to secure his load and tons of logs fall onto the mill worker, he or she could sue the logging company and its insurance carrier for negligence. Or if the respirators supplied to a manufacturing facility were faulty and a factory worker can show they were a factor in their getting lung cancer. Third-party liability allows you or your dependents to pursue a personal injury claim beyond what your employer can compensate.
To establish negligence, you must prove several elements to demonstrate that the logging company or respirator maker acted irresponsibly:
- That the companies owed the worker a legal obligation to safely secure the logs or provide functioning safety equipment.
- That the companies violated that duty by acting or failing to act responsibly.
- That the companies’ actions or inaction caused the injury.
- That the companies’ actions or inaction injured the worker.
Personal injury cases often come down to counternarratives to leverage a pretrial settlement or present a viable case to a jury. It is about your misfortune, the circumstances that led up to it and who was responsible. Insurance companies typically argue that their client did not create the hazard, acted diligently to create a safe environment and that you were liable for your injury. It usually is more nuanced.
You are not alone
It is important to know your rights after suffering a workplace injury. But it can be overwhelming to take on a big corporation and the insurance industry alone when you need to focus on recovering and providing for your family. You have options. Stay informed so you can make the right decisions to move forward.