Workplace injuries can be devastating, leading to physical pain, emotional distress, and financial burdens. In Texas, eighty-three percent of employees are covered by workers’ compensation, which provides benefits for medical expenses and lost wages. However, there are situations where injured workers may have grounds to pursue legal action beyond the scope of workers’ compensation.
In this blog, our Carrollton Work Injury Attorneys will explore third-party liability in work injury cases and help you understand when you can sue beyond workers’ comp.
Understanding Workers' Compensation
Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. When an employee is covered by workers’ comp, they generally cannot sue their employer for damages resulting from a workplace accident. Instead, they receive benefits regardless of fault, while the employer is protected from lawsuits.
What is Third-Party Liability?
While workers’ comp generally limits an injured worker’s ability to sue their employer, there are circumstances where a third party other than the employer may bear responsibility for the injury. Third-party liability refers to situations where someone other than the employer, such as a contractor, equipment manufacturer, delivery person or property owner, may be held legally liable for the injury.
Examples of Third-Party Liability
a. Negligent Contractors: If a subcontractor or contractor’s negligence contributes to, or causes a work-related injury, the injured worker may have grounds to pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible party. This could include cases where faulty construction, unsafe practices, or inadequate training led to the accident.
b. Defective Products: If a work injury is caused by a defective product, such as faulty machinery or equipment, the injured worker may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the product.
c. Premises Liability: In some cases, a work injury may occur due to hazardous conditions on the premises, such as a slip and fall accident or an electrical hazard. If the property owner or manager fails to maintain a safe environment, they may be liable for the worker’s injuries. This scenario arises when the employer of the injured worker differs from the property owner or property manager.
Advantages of Pursuing Third-Party Liability Claims
While workers’ comp provides essential benefits, pursuing a third-party liability claim can offer additional advantages:
a. Increased Compensation: Third-party claims allow injured workers to seek damages beyond what workers’ comp provides. These damages may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of earning capacity, and punitive damages in cases of gross negligence.
b. Independent Investigation: Unlike workers’ comp claims, third-party claims involve conducting an independent investigation to establish liability. This investigation can help uncover evidence that may not have been considered during the workers’ comp process.
c. Retaining Control: In a third-party claim, the injured worker has more control over their case. They can choose their legal representation and make decisions regarding settlement offers or proceeding to trial. Additionally, the injured worker has a degree of control over their medical treatment, and can seek treatment from doctors of their choice, as opposed to workers’ comp medical providers.
Consult an Experienced Carrollton Personal Injury Attorney
Determining third-party liability and navigating the legal complexities can be challenging without the guidance of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. If you’ve been injured at work and believe a third party may be responsible, it is crucial to consult an experienced attorney who specializes in work injury cases. They can evaluate the details of your situation and advise you on the best course of action.
Our Dallas Work Injury Attorneys Can Help You Understand Your Options
While workers’ compensation provides important benefits to injured workers, there are circumstances where pursuing a third-party liability claim can lead to additional compensation and justice. Understanding when you can sue beyond workers’ comp is crucial to ensuring your rights are protected.