When people are hurt at work, they are entitled to compensation. Typically, injured workers are eligible for worker’s compensation to recover medical and wage replacement benefits. If a third party caused the accident, then you might have grounds for a third-party claim. If you have legal questions, then make sure to speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Worker’s Compensation Limits
Worker’s compensation is a form of insurance that covers some of the costs of workplace injuries. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system. When an employee is injured on the job, worker’s compensation will cover their medical bills and replace some of their lost wages — regardless of whether they caused the accident. In exchange, the employee gives up the right to sue their employer for workplace accidents.
There are limitations to worker’s compensation insurance. For example, an injured worker can typically only receive up to 2/3 of their lost wages. Likewise, worker’s compensation insurance only covers necessary treatments and medical costs. Non-economic damages are not available in worker’s comp claims.
However, a third-party lawsuit can provide damages that are not available in worker’s compensation claims. A third-party claim provides full compensation for an injured worker’s economic and non-economic damages.
Defining a Third Party
If a party that is not your employer injured you while on the job, you might have a third-party claim. The third party is the outside person that caused your injuries. Third-party claims are civil lawsuits that are directed at the third party for their conduct.
Worker’s compensation claims are claims that are made against the employer’s insurance company. Worker’s compensation claims are not lawsuits. Under Florida law, employees must first seek money through worker’s compensation if they are hurt on the job. When a third party causes the injury, that person can be held liable as well.
What Are Some Possible Third Parties in a Third-Party Claim?
Possible third parties in a third-party claim can include:
- Negligent drivers
- Commercial truck drivers or companies
- Product manufacturers
- Maintenance workers
For example, a driver might hit you while you are operating a vehicle for work. A product manufacturer may be responsible for making a defective product that injures you at work. In all cases, you will need to demonstrate that the third party acted negligently or intentionally to recover compensation.
Can You Make Both a Third-Party Claim and a Worker’s Compensation Claim?
Yes, these are separate claims that will operate side by side. However, the available types of compensation for these claims differ.
In a third-party claim, an injured worker can seek non-economic damages for any serious or permanent injuries. This can include compensation for things like:
- Mental anguish,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Loss of consortium.
Non-economic damages can lead to a significant financial recovery. Worker’s compensation claims will generally always be the base claim that must be made by employees hurt while at work. But, when a third party caused the accident or harm, then that person can be held liable through a successful third-party claim.
Is It Possible to Sue My Employer or Coworker?
Worker’s compensation is typically the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries. However, there are exceptions. To file a lawsuit against your employer, you must show:
- That the employer was grossly negligent and deliberately concealed a risk that led to harm; or
- That the employer did not have worker’s compensation insurance as required.
To bypass worker’s compensation and file a lawsuit against a coworker, you must show:
- That the coworker acted with willful or wanton disregard;
- That the coworker acted with unprovoked physical aggression; or
- That the coworker acted with gross negligence; and
- The coworker’s acts resulted in injury or death.
If you work in unrelated areas with the coworker, then you may also be able to file a claim against your coworker if they cause you harm. Generally, working in unrelated areas means working in different departments, answering to different supervisors, or working in different physical locations. If you are hurt at work, then you might have several options when making a claim, so it is important to understand what is legally available. If you have legal questions, contact a lawyer for help.
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been hurt in an accident, then you might be able to file a third-party claim. Contact a Clearwater personal injury attorney to assess your options. Most offer free consultations to injured workers.