When an employee is hurt in a work-related accident, the injury could be caused by something other than the employer or workplace. In some work-related injury situations it may not be the employer’s responsibility, but instead a third-party liability. When an injured employee has a work-related injury or ailment due to third party actions, he could pursue a third party liability action against the third party. There is a distinct difference between a third party liability personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim, they also do different things for injured workers.
Workers’ Compensation Claim
A workers’ comp claim is designed to provide employees with short-term benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses. Workers’ comp benefits are used to provide medical expenses and income replacement benefits, however, most benefits are restricted in terms of how long an injured employee may claim them. For example, an injured employee could be out of workers’ compensation benefits after a couple of years, but they may still be hurting from a work-related injury that was caused by a responsible third party.
One can receive workers’ compensation benefits by filing out the appropriate forms with the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation. The Employee’s Claim for Compensation for a Work-Related Injury or Occupational Disease form (DWC Form-041) must be completed and submitted to the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Worker’s Compensation by the injured employee. When filing a worker’s compensation claim, this form is required to be completed within the one year statute of limitations. If they are eligible, surviving family members must complete and submit the Beneficiary Claim for Death Benefits form (DWC Form-042) to the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation. The one year statute of limitations must be taken account for when filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Generally, workers’ compensation is always awarded unless the fault lies in worker intoxication, willful criminal conduct of the work, or a similar situation. Generally speaking, if an employee is injured on the job by a co-worker, they will be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Though there are times where an accident on the job has occurred due to someone that isn’t the employer or employee. If the injury has occurred by a third party, such as a vendor, supplier or company, etc., then they should be held accountable for their actions. In the event that a third party is responsible for causing an employee’s injury, or in some cases, a wrongful death, then the injured employee or surviving family members, can seek compensation from the accountable third party with a personal injury claim or wrongful death claim. A third party liability case can be used supplementary to a workers’ compensation claim if being pursued by the injured employee.
Following the same procedures and statute of limitations, a third party liability suit is very much like any other personal injury or wrongful deaths suit. The statute of limitations is two years after the date of the injury or death of the employee for a personal injury claim or wrongful death claim. A third party liability suit could still be useful for an injured employee to receive financial compensation for a long term injury and future medical care. The injured party, or surviving family members, have the options to either file a claim against the liable third party, or attempt to enter a settlement negotiation with the liable third party. A few instances of a common third party liability accident are:
- An injury occurring from a defective design or manufacturing defect of a specific product that the employee used on the job;
- An injury as the result of an automobile accidents due to the negligence or intentional actions of a third party, while the employee was on the clock; and
- An injury occurring due to another business from premises liability issues, if it the injured worker’s job to visit other businesses.
In fact, a third party liability suit could result in an injured employee receiving more compensation than he would from a workers’ compensation claim. This is due to the fact that when filing a third party liability suit, an injured employee can also receive compensation for noneconomic injuries such as pain and suffering and mental anguish. Also, punitive damages are available to be awarded under the right conditions in a third party liability suit, which makes the overall recovery for the injured worker, much larger.
An injured worker who is interested in a liable third party claim, should ensure that they talk to their personal injury lawyer about the specific details of their case and the injured worker’s injuries. A personal injury lawyer can excel in identifying all potential liable parties and strategize on the best possible way to obtain the max amount of compensation available in light of the facts and situations leading up to the injured employee’s injuries.