When Would You File a 3rd Party Claim in Workplace Injury?
Alabama’s workers’ compensation program might not be the only means of recovery available to you as an injured employee. As is the case in most states, Alabama’s workers’ compensation program does not prevent an employee from pursuing additional damages in a personal injury lawsuit – as long as the defendant is a third party and not the employer. Pursuing damages through a civil claim on top of workers’ compensation could result in greater relief for your work-related injuries, hospital bills, disabilities, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Workers’ Compensation: An “Exclusive Remedy?”
The workers’ compensation program only works as part of an “exclusive remedy” solution: the state offers a means of no-fault recovery in exchange for the employee signing over his/her rights to file a claim against the employer. An injured worker can recover two-thirds of lost weekly wages, as well as payment of all accident-related medical costs, without having to prove anyone else’s negligence. For this benefit, the worker agrees not to sue the company he or she works for. The only exception to this rule would be if the employer intentionally harmed the worker.
For the most part, the workers’ compensation program works in favor of the injured party, removing the burden of proof and making it easier to receive payment for losses. The “exclusive remedy,” however, might not be so exclusive – an employee in Alabama could have other legal options in pursuit of damage compensation. In certain situations, an injured worker could potentially name a third party as a defendant. Naming a third party could result in more significant compensation.
In personal injury law, a “third party” is anyone not directly involved in the accident in question. For example, say your employer never bothered to incorporate a protocol in the event of a fall. You fall from a ladder and it takes half an hour before someone finally calls an ambulance, resulting in serious injury. In this scenario, the main case would be between you and your employer for poor management. A potential third party in the lawsuit, however, could be the manufacturer of the ladder for making an unsafe piece of equipment.
Shared Liability for a Workplace Accident
Many workplace accidents involve shared liability between two or more parties. When someone other than your employer plays a role in what happened to you, explore your rights to a third-party lawsuit. You might be able to file a personal injury claim against a negligent property owner, product manufacturer, coworker, driver, government body, pet owner, and/or other parties in addition to seeking a remedy through the Alabama workers’ comp system. The following situations are some examples when you might file a third-party claim:
- You suffer injuries or illnesses because of dangerous premises, such as a building containing asbestos. The owner of the property where you worked could face third-party liability.
- A distracted driver strikes you while you’re working in construction on the roadway. You could file a claim against the individual driver for negligence on top of a workers’ compensation claim.
- A transformer explodes because of a defective part while you’re working on it, causing serious burn injuries. You could have the right to compensation through a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the transformer.
If someone other than your employer caused or contributed to your injuries, consider filing a third-party claim. While a workers’ compensation agreement could cover two-thirds of your lost wages, a personal injury lawsuit could reimburse all of your lost wages – both past and future. A third-party claim could also end in awards for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and many other damages workers’ comp doesn’t cover. Always talk to an attorney about your right to a third-party lawsuit after a work-related illness in Alabama.
Contact our Birmingham personal injury lawyers today.