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What is a third-party claim for work injuries?

When you sustain an injury on the job, the first place you probably turn is workers' compensation. These benefits make employers' insurance cover your medical expenses, lost income and other relevant costs. The benefits may be full or partial and last for a short time or for the rest of your life depending on the type and severity of the injury. 

However, in some cases, you may have an additional option besides workers' compensation. When someone who is not your employer is responsible for your workplace accident, then you can also sue that party in a regular personal injury claim.

Whom does this affect?

Most third-party claims occur in the construction and delivery industries. Many contractors and owners are involved in construction projects, and delivery drivers are at a high risk of getting in a vehicular accident. It can apply to other workers, too, such as any who deal with equipment. Manufacturers are legally responsible for faulty machinery and products. Customers, property owners, maintenance crews and animals may also cause workplace injuries. Even someone on an out-of-the-ordinary work errand can be eligible for a third-party claim after a car crash.

What happens in a third-party claim?

To hold the party accountable, you have to file a separate claim from workers' compensation, through the normal legal system. You will need to prove the party's negligence as well as how it led to your injury and the related consequences. If you win the case, you may receive awards for medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage and lost wages. The party may also have to pay you punitive damages if the action was severe or came from malice.

Whether or not your employer's insurance can recover workers' compensation benefits from your third-party settlement is a complex matter best to discuss with your attorney. Because the law regarding each recovery option affects the other, it is wise to ensure your legal representation has experience in both areas.

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