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Third-Party Negligence for Workplace Injuries

Most employers are required to purchase workers' compensation insurance to provide benefits to employees who suffer injuries in workplace accidents. In many cases, however, a worker may have grounds for filing a third-party lawsuit if he or she can show evidence that another party's negligence was a causal factor to the damages that occurred.

Workers' Compensation Versus a Third-Party Negligence Claim

If you are injured in a workplace accident, you can file a workers' comp claim to collect benefits to help cover medical expenses and replace a portion of your lost wages if you have to take time off work during recovery. These are the essential elements of a workers' compensation claim. When you file such a claim, the exact cause of your injuries is irrelevant to determine eligibility. In other words, you don't have to prove that someone's negligence caused the damages. When you file a third-party injury claim, however, you are tasked with providing evidence to convince the court that another party was negligent. You must also prove that the party's negligence directly caused you to suffer physical, economic or emotional damages. While the benefits provided through the workers' compensation program are intended as partial wage replacement and to pay medical bills or make ends meet at home while you're unable to return to the workplace, pain and suffering is not taken into account when determining the amount of compensation a particular worker can receive. When filing a third-party lawsuit, you may list pain and suffering when seeking financial recovery for damages.

Common Causes of Injuries That Result From Third-Party Negligence

The events that led to you suffering an on-the-job injury may have been outside your employer's control. If so, there may be evidence that third-party negligence was responsible for your injuries. The following list includes some of the most common types of incidents that occur in the average workplace that often lead to litigation in a civil court:
  • Accidents involving defective products or machines
  • Motor vehicle collisions
  • Slips and falls
As an example, if you were traveling to make a delivery for your employer during work hours and are injured when a drunk driver hits you, you may have grounds for filing a third-party injury claim against that driver. In such circumstances, it's helpful to ask an Allentown personal injury lawyer to review the details of your case to help determine the best course of action regarding possible litigation.

Support for Loved Ones If a Fatality Occurs

Perhaps you lost a loved one in a workplace tragedy. If their death occurred because of another person's negligence, you might be eligible to file a wrongful death claim to seek restitution. There is no way to replace the loss of a human life. However, court-awarded compensation often helps grieving families cover funeral expenses and other financial burdens associated with a loved one's sudden death.

Proving a Third-Party Negligence Claim

The court takes many factors under consideration when handing down a ruling in a third-party negligence lawsuit regarding a workplace accident. Four of the main factors are:
  • Your injuries occurred at work.
  • The defendant you have named owed you a duty of care.
  • There was a failure of such duty.
  • The defendant's negligence was a direct cause of your injuries.
In short, you must be able to convince the court that, if it weren't for the defendant's negligence, the injuries you suffered would not have occurred. In past cases, defendants in third-party lawsuits have included co-workers, product manufacturers, irate customers and motorists, as well as people committing crimes, such as assault or robbery.

Can You Sue Your Employer for Negligence?

Workers' compensation regulations typically protect employers from being sued by workers who suffer an injury on the job. However, if you have evidence of gross negligence by your employer or that your employer's malicious or willful behavior caused your injuries, it may be possible to file a third-party claim. Another exception to the rule might exist if your employer is required to purchase workers' compensation insurance but failed to do so. In such circumstances, you may not only be eligible to file a third-party claim but would also be able to seek recovery of full wages, pain and suffering, as well as loss of future earning capacity, if applicable to your situation. At Metzger & Kleiner, our experienced legal team is committed to providing strong support to people who have suffered damages because of third-party negligence in a workplace accident. Call us at (215) 567-6616 today to request a consultation.

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