In a third-party claim, you are suing someone other than your employer for having caused or contributed to cause a workplace accident. Such a claim may be brought as part of a lawsuit in which you are seeking workers’ compensation from your employer, or it may be brought separately. You, as the victim, are considered the first party, while your employer and coworkers are second parties. Any other person is considered a third party.
A few examples of third parties who might be held liable for your injuries are:
- Someone other than your employer who owns or operates the premises where you were working
- A contractor or subcontractor whose employee was operating equipment on the job site
- Manufacturers of defective products used at work, such as vehicles, tools, piping, valves, boilers, or other equipment or machinery.
- A company whose employees installed, serviced, or inspected equipment or machinery at the job site
- Anyone else who is not employed by your employer that causes you injury
Unlike “no fault” workers’ compensation claims against the employer, to recover on a third-party claim, an injured employee must prove negligence on the part of the third party, that is, that they failed to act with due care and thereby caused injury. Also unlike workers’ compensation cases, the defendant in a third-party case may assert as a defense that your own negligence caused the accident. The injured worker may also sue the third-party defendant for all compensation generally authorized by law, as well as for punitive damages meant to punish and deter wrongful conduct.
Depending on the events of the accident, you may be entitled to compensation against the third party for:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost quality and enjoyment of life
- Medical care
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Rehabilitation services
- Vocational training
- Other expenses incurred in the healing process, such as travel expenses
You will also have the right in a third-party case to demand that a jury resolve disputed facts and circumstances underlying the claim as well as the amount of compensatory and punitive damages that the defendant must pay.