When you get hurt at work, you might not immediately begin thinking about filing a lawsuit against the responsible parties. Indeed, you are likely concerned with your workers compensation benefits and being able to pay your medical bills and monthly rent or mortgage payment.
Yet in the days and weeks following a serious accident on the job, injured workers in Indiana should realize that they may be able to seek compensation by suing a third party in certain situations. Filing a lawsuit against a third party may entitle you to additional forms of compensation, including for pain and suffering or the loss of enjoyment of life.
At Klezmer Maudlin, PC, we are committed to helping people who have suffered serious injuries at work in Indianapolis, Evansville and across Indiana. When you come to us about a workers compensation claim, we will analyze your case to determine whether you may be eligible to file a third-party lawsuit. Our experienced workers compensation lawyers can begin exploring your options with you today.
How to know if you may have a third-party suit
You might be wondering what we mean when we refer to a “third-party lawsuit.” While this might sound like a complicated legal term, we can explain how a third party lawsuit might entitle you to additional damages when you suffer an injury or illness on the job.
In short, if you get hurt at work, you typically will not file a claim against your employer even if your employer failed to take certain precautions concerning worker safety. In such a case, your employer usually will be covered by workers compensation insurance. However, there might be another party—someone who is not your employer or a co-worker—who was at fault in some way for your accident and resulting injuries. This other person is the third party against whom you might be able to file a lawsuit.
How can you know if you could file a third-party case? It is extremely important to discuss your case with a workers comp lawyer in Indianapolis who can help to determine the best way for you to seek damages.
There are a number of common work injuries that could lead to a successful third-party lawsuit, including:
- construction site injuries to subcontractors
- work-related car accidents
- injuries to delivery drivers at delivery sites
- injuries caused by defective or dangerous products
- slip and fall accidents
If someone other than your employer or co-worker causes an accident, or if you get hurt on property other than your place of employment where you are doing a job, you may be able to file a third-party claim.
Construction site injuries to subcontractors
The most common types of workers compensation injuries that can also lead to a third-party lawsuit are those involving construction site injuries to subcontractors. Why do these incidents lend themselves so well to third-party claims? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) explains that a contractor is someone who is employed by one party, but is currently doing work on behalf of another company. Often, a subcontractor who gets hurt on a construction site might be able to file a lawsuit against a couple of different third parties, namely the general contractor or the property owner.
How might this work?
Let’s say there is a subcontractor who was working on scaffolding at a construction site and falls. The fall results in serious spinal cord injuries and broken bones. The subcontractor might be able to file a claim against the general contractor in addition to filing a workers compensation claim if the fall resulted in part from the general contractor’s negligence. In addition, the subcontractor may be able to file a third-party lawsuit against the property owner (where the construction took place) if the property owner failed to correct or warn about a hazard on the property that contributed to the accident. If a property owner subjects someone to a known hazard, that property owner may be liable for resulting accidents and injuries.
Car accidents during the course of employment
Another common workplace accident for which injured employees file third-party claims is a work-related car accident. Work-related auto accidents are discussed at length in a fact sheet from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Who is often the liable third party in these incidents? There may be a few different answers depending on the details of your case.
Let’s say that you are a delivery driver and are transporting items for your employer. While you are on the road, a distracted driver crashes into your van and causes serious injuries. That driver may be held liable through a third-party lawsuit.
In another example, you might be delivering items for your employer when a defective car part causes you to be involved in a single-vehicle accident that causes serious injuries. You may be able to file a third-party claim against the manufacturer of that defective car part. Whenever a defective product, (i.e. automobile brakes, dangerous machinery, etc.) causes a serious accident during the course of employment, the injury victim may be able to seek additional compensation from the designer, manufacturer, or retailer of the product.
Can you recover a settlement from workers comp and a third-party claim?
Many injured workers in Indiana want to know if they can obtain benefits from work