What's a Third Party in a Personal Injury Case

The injured party in a personal injury case often files a claim with another person’s insurance company. This is known as a third-party claim; you are filing the claim with someone else’s insurer rather than your own.

First-Party Claims vs. Third-Party Claims

If you file a claim with your own insurance company, it is known as a first-party claim. You may need to file a first-party claim if you caused your own accident/injuries.

You may also need to file both a first-party claim and a third-party claim in some cases. For example, Florida law requires drivers to carry a personal injury protection (PIP) plan as part of their car insurance coverage. 

If you are injured in a car accident, you may need to file two insurance claims:

  • A first-party claim with your own insurance under your PIP plan. This covers certain expenses such as medical bills, up to the PIP plan’s policy limits.
  • A third-party claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company for all your damages that were not covered by the PIP plan.

A third-party insurer will investigate to determine whether the policyholder was negligent. The insurer will also evaluate each category of damages that you are seeking compensation for. They will then either deny your claim or offer a financial settlement that you can choose to accept or reject.

Third-Party Liability for Work Injuries

Third-party liability may also apply to work accidents. A third party is a person other than your employer who causes your injuries. You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to sue them directly.

For example, you may be injured in a car accident while performing your duties as an employee. Because your accident occurred while you were performing work duties, you would file a workers’ compensation claim.

If a third party was responsible for the car accident, you may also have a legal claim against the negligent driver. This claim would be a personal injury lawsuit. 

In most cases, your employer will not be considered a third party for any work-related injuries. You won’t be able to sue them directly for your injuries, and you should instead file a workers’ compensation claim.

Types of Third-Party Personal Injury Cases

There are a variety of situations where you may have a third-party personal injury claim in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. Talk to a personal injury lawyer if you were injured under any of the following circumstances:

Driver Negligence

Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents may all involve the negligence of a third party. You may seek compensation from this third party by filing a claim with their insurance company or filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Premises Liability

If you have a slip-and-fall accident on someone else’s property, they may be responsible for your injuries. This legal theory is known as premises liability. They may have a duty to keep their property free from dangers or to adequately warn you of any dangers.

Homeowners and business owners often have insurance to cover these claims. You would need to file a claim for damages with the appropriate insurance company.

Product Liability

Defective products can cause serious injuries, even when they are being used properly. If you have a workplace accident caused by a faulty product, you may have a product liability claim. You could seek compensation from the manufacturer, designer, or retailer of the defective product.

These cases generally involve strict liability by the manufacturer. This means you aren’t required to prove any negligence on their part in order to succeed in your claim. The manufacturer may also be liable if they failed to provide an adequate warning to consumers about the dangers of using their product.

Workers’ Compensation Claims vs. Personal Injury Lawsuits

Just because you’ve filed a workers’ compensation claim, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also file a third-party personal injury lawsuit. Make sure you don’t delay filing your claim because you may trigger the Florida statute of limitations for personal injury cases.

Personal injury cases have different rules than workers’ compensation claims. For example, you can seek damages for pain and suffering in a personal injury case. These damages may be substantial in cases involving severe injuries.

It’s also possible that your workers’ compensation claim could be denied. For example, if it’s determined that you weren’t performing your job duties when you were injured, this could defeat your workers’ compensation claim. However, this generally wouldn’t prevent you from seeking compensation from a third party in a personal injury claim.

If you were involved in any type of work-related accident, contact a personal injury lawyer about your rights under both the workers’ compensation system and a third-party personal injury lawsuit.