INJURED ON THE JOB: WORKERS' COMPENSATION VS. THIRD-PARTY CLAIM
If you’ve been injured on the job, you’ve likely been receiving workers’ compensation. You may not be aware of the option of a third-party claim. Because workers’ compensation payouts tend to be low (in 2020, the state of California paid out only $1.56 per $100 of payroll), your compensation likely won’t cover all the costs associated with your injury, leaving you to pick up the balance.
Here’s what you need to know about workers’ compensation vs. third-party claims and how you can best position yourself to get the compensation you deserve. For those who’ve experienced a personal injury on the job, reach out to The Law Office of Steve Brannan in Odessa, Texas.
Injured on the Job Claim Options
The two kinds of benefits you may receive when injured on the job are workers’ compensation and third-party claims. It’s essential to know the difference so you can best leverage your situation for a fair settlement.
Workers’ compensation is the basic form of insurance mandated by states for workplaces to pay out when an employee is injured on the job. This type of insurance pays out regardless of who was at fault and is intended to cover lost wages and medical expenses related to the injury. Because many workplaces provide this benefit, employees are not allowed to sue their employer for damages if they get injured as a direct result of their job duties if the employer carries Workers Compensation. For example, if a warehouse worker throws their back out while lifting boxes as part of their job description, they could collect workers’ compensation.
A third-party claim is a personal injury claim filed with another insurer. In a workplace, a third-party claim can be made in addition to receiving workers’ compensation to fill in the coverage gaps that regular workers’ compensation leaves open. This is not a claim made against your employer, rather a separate party that caused the on-the-job injury. For example, if you were injured on a construction site due to a mechanical error in a piece of machinery, you could file a third-party claim against the manufacturer.
Claims That Qualify for Both
There are some instances when you can file both a workers’ compensation and a third-party claim after an injury.
Car accidents that occur while you’re on the job: For jobs that involve driving, if the driver is involved in a car accident that was the other driver's fault, they can file a third-party claim against the driver that caused the accident. Because the your were performing your regular job duties, you would also qualify for workers’ compensation.
Defective equipment (product liability): If a job requires the operation of machinery or equipment, and the worker is injured because a component of the equipment was faulty, that employee could claim both workers’ compensation (because they were carrying out their job functions) and file a personal injury claim against the equipment manufacturer whose defective part caused the accident.
Who Can You File a Third-Party Claim Against?
Most third-party claims are filed against a manufacturer, another individual whom the claimant does not work with, or an outside contractor. It is very rare to have third-party claims filed against an employer or a fellow coworker since they would both be protected by workers’ compensation laws.
For a third-party claim to be upheld, the claimant must be able to prove negligence. This is done by meeting four standards:
Duty: The third party had a “duty of care” or an obligation to carry out some kind of service.
Breach of duty: The responsible party neglected to fulfill their duty.
Causation: By breaching their duty, they caused the claimant harm.
Damages: Costs or hardships were incurred because of this breach (medical bills, time lost from work, and so on).
Subrogation is a right held by most insurance carriers that protects their assets from excessive third-party claims that may otherwise threaten to bankrupt them. Essentially, it allows the insurance company to file a third-party claim against the policyholder who caused the initial claim.
For example, if a driver is at-fault in an accident and the insurance company has to pay for the other driver’s totaled car, they can then file suit against their own policyholder for negligent driving and seek compensation for their losses.
The Law Office of Steve Brannan: Experience You Can Trust
If you’re in west Texas or the Midland or Odessa, Texas area, the Law Office of Steve Brannan can help you file a third-party claim. If you’ve been injured on the job, you shouldn’t have to worry about unpaid medical bills or wages lost due to the accident. Third-party claims can help you get the financial support you need to recover fully and get back to work.