Workers’ Comp vs. Third-Party Claims
After a typical workplace accident, workers are entitled to seek workers’ compensation benefits. Much of the time, workers’ comp is the only route to recovery after a workplace accident. Under certain circumstances, however, a worker may be able to pursue a claim against a third party. There are key differences between workers’ comp and third-party claims, including when they can be brought, how they must be proven, and what compensation is available under each type of claim.
Read on to learn about the differences between workers’ comp and third-party claims. If you’ve been hurt on the job in California, call a seasoned California workers’ comp attorney at Invictus Law.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers who are injured on the job, at the office, or otherwise while performing work-related tasks can seek workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp is available regardless of who caused the accident or whether anyone was negligent, with very limited exceptions.
Workers’ compensation includes the following benefits, which may be available depending upon the nature and circumstance of the worker’s injuries:
- Medical costs and related expenses;
- Temporary disability benefits (two-thirds of the worker’s lost wages while unable to work);
- Permanent disability benefits (for long-term injuries);
- Supplemental job displacement benefits (if the worker could work another job given proper training and education);
- Death benefits.
Under most circumstances, workers injured on the job are limited to workers’ comp claims. Workers cannot typically sue their employer, regardless of whether their injuries were caused by a negligent co-worker, a negligent supervisor, or even systemic negligence at the company.
In the context of workplace accidents and injuries, “third-party claims” refer to claims brought against parties other than the plaintiff’s employer. Workers are generally prohibited from filing a traditional personal insurance claim against their employer after a workplace accident, instead being limited to workers’ comp protections. If a third party is liable for the accident or injury, however, the injured worker could file a claim against that party.
Third-party claims are available whenever a worker’s injury was caused in whole or in part by the negligence or other wrongful conduct of anyone outside of the worker’s company. If anyone other than a co-worker, supervisor, or other higher-up was to blame, the worker could have a claim against that party. An injured worker may have a third-party claim, for example:
- If the worker was injured by a non-employee driver in a traffic accident;
- If the worker was injured because a third-party contractor (such as a subcontractor) made a mistake, such as by improperly loading a commercial truck;
- If the worker was injured because of the negligence of a client or customer;
- If the worker was injured because of faulty equipment;
- If the worker was injured because of building defects and the building was owned and maintained by a third party;
- If the worker was injured on someone else’s property while performing work-related tasks;
- And many other situations.
Workers’ Comp vs. Third-Party Advantages and Disadvantages
Third-party claims have advantages and disadvantages as compared to workers’ comp claims. A third-party claim is a standard personal injury claim. Unlike workers’ comp claims, which are available regardless of who was at fault for the accident, to bring a third-party claim the injured worker must demonstrate that the defendant was negligent or otherwise to blame. Third-party claims can thus be more challenging to prove.
On the other hand, third-party claims can be more valuable than workers’ comp claims. In a third-party claim, an injured worker can seek coverage for their medical expenses, all of their lost wages (instead of a fraction), and non-economic damages such as for their pain and suffering and emotional distress.
If you suffered a work-related injury, illness, or disability, you need experienced, effective legal help to maximize your compensation. The seasoned California workers’ comp legal team at Invictus Law is ready to help. We’re board-certified specialists in workers’ compensation. You don’t have to pay unless we recover on your behalf. Call us today for a consultation.