Employees who are injured on the job typically only have one option for recovering payment from an employer: workers’ compensation. However, employees can seek compensation from an additional party whose negligence contributed to the accident—and they can file these claims while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Third party work injury claims arise when someone other than the employer or a coworker is to blame for an on-the-job accident. Some examples of third parties include:
- The manufacturer of a tool that was poorly designed
- The distributer of defective products, parts, or machinery
- A worker under a different employer who caused the accident
- The owner of the land or building where the injury occurred
- A driver who struck an employee while in the course of his duties
- Independent advisors who fail to provide adequate safety training
- A subcontractor who failed to follow safety protocol
- Independent safety inspectors who failed to identify hazards on the job site
Payments Through Workers’ Compensation vs. Third-Party Injury Claims
Not only can injured workers receive workers’ compensation benefits while filing a third-party claim, it may actually be advantageous to pursue both types of claims. An attorney handling both actions may be able to maximize the effect of your claim and the damages you are awarded for your suffering by:
- Surpassing benefit limitations. Workers’ compensation is limited in the amount and scope of payments it can provide for an injury. In most cases, injured employees can only receive benefits for lost income, medical bills, and disability. However, there are no damage limits on third-party claims, allowing workers injured to sue for emotional trauma, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of independence, and punitive damages.
- Calling attention to negligent conditions. A third-party claim is a legal action, and changes in operations may be ordered as part of the verdict or settlement. If the worksite was in violation of state or federal safety standards, the third party may face fines and civil penalties, helping to ensure that the same accident will not happen again.
- Addressing subrogation issues. If your claim is successful, the company who provided your workers’ compensation benefits may attempt to recover the amount it paid for your injury. This action is called subrogation, and it essentially forces the at-fault party to pay for the entirety of your injuries. In many cases, employees use workers’ compensation payments to pay the bills, paying the insurer back when their third-party claim is successful.
Texas Workers May Get Compensation From a Third Party and an Employer
There are a few special considerations for Texas employees filing work injury claims. The first concerns employees who are working for “non-subscriber” employers. While workers cannot sue employers who provide workers’ compensation, workers can pursue claims against Texas employers who do not have worker's compensation insurance. In these cases, workers can sue the non-subscriber employer without limitations on damages, and may also file a lawsuit against any additional third-parties (including co-employees) whose actions contributed to the accident.
Texas state law also provides an exception to the rule barring lawsuits against employers. If an employee suffers a fatal work injury, the employee’s family members can bring a lawsuit against the employer for gross negligence. These lawsuits can be filed regardless of workers’ compensation status, since the action is brought by family members instead of the employee himself.
If you are considering filing a work injury lawsuit, our attorneys can explore your options to get you the maximum amount of allowable compensation for your losses. We can calculate the full costs of your injury, including how much the accident will cost you in the future and the pain and suffering you have endured. Contact the Packard Law Firm today to tell us more about your case in your free consultation. Anything you tell us is confidential, and we do not charge anything unless we win your case.