Women hurts her shoulder while working in factory

Filing a Third-Party Claim After a Work Injury

Gerstner Adam Law April 23, 2024

Getting injured at work is already a pressing matter that can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed. When you’re injured at work due to someone else's negligence while you're on the job, you should consider pursuing workers’ compensation benefits.  

However, what happens when negligence is due to a third party? Such as a contractor or manufacturer? Note that you do have options for seeking compensation.  

Thankfully, Gerstner Adam Law can break down the intricate process of filing a third-party workplace injury claim—a pivotal issue for all who unfortunately find themselves injured on the job. 

Understanding Workers' Comp Claims

Before we explore third-party claims, it's crucial to grasp the dual approach to injury compensation that states like Montana offer.

The realm of workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, a crucial benefit insurance process that serves to provide coverage for injuries sustained in the course and scope of employment.

This coverage casts a wide net, encompassing medical care, rehabilitation, and a percentage of lost wages, without requiring the employee to prove fault on the part of their employer. However, these benefits have defined limits and do not include coverage for pain and suffering or punitive damages. 

In contrast, a third-party workplace injury claim brings a personal injury lawsuit against a party or entity outside the chain of employment that may have contributed to your injuries.

Such claims hinge upon the doctrine of negligence, requiring a demonstration that the third party had a legal duty of care toward the injured worker and that their negligent actions, or inactions, directly resulted in harm. A third-party claim’s potential benefit is broader than workers' compensation alone, encompassing both economic and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. 

Eligibility for a Third-Party Claim

Assuming the injury was not caused by employer negligence or intentional harm, a third-party claim may be invoked if another person or entity, such as a contractor or the manufacturer of a piece of equipment, bears responsibility for the injury.  

Proving Negligence

Navigating a third-party claim necessitates a legal demonstration of negligence by the liable party. Elements that must be proven include: 

  1. Duty: The third party owed you a duty of care to prevent harm. 

  1. Breach of Duty: They failed to uphold that duty, either through an action or inaction. 

  1. Causation: The breach of duty directly caused the injury. 

  1. Damages: You experienced actual harm or damages, be it physical, financial, or emotional. 

In essence, to successfully file a third-party claim, your legal team must illustrate that the incident occurred due to the third party's failure to act with a reasonable standard of care.  

Understanding the interplay between workers' compensation and third-party claims is essential. Subrogation is one such legal principle at play.

If you collect benefits through workers' compensation and subsequently win a third-party claim, your workers' comp insurer may assert their right to a portion of your third-party recovery as reimbursement for the benefits paid. This doctrine is meant to prevent "double recovery" and ensure that the employer or insurer does not suffer any financial loss.  

For victims grappling with the complexities of workplace injury claims, seeking legal representation is often the most effective first step to understanding your rights and the viability of your potential legal claims.

By consulting with a personal injury attorney at Gerstner Adam Law, you gain an advocate who not only understands the nuances of third-party claims but can also guide you through the process, negotiate on your behalf, and represent your interests should your claim proceed to litigation. 

The Process of Filing a Third-Party Claim

When you are injured due to the negligence of a third-party, such as a contractor or manufacturer, you are entitled to the compensation that you deserve for damages. Speaking with an experienced workers' compensation is extremely beneficial when taking the proper steps. The following are a few to keep in mind when starting the process:  

  1. Seek immediate medical attention and document all injuries, ensuring you have a clear medical record from the start.  

  1. Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible to initiate the workers' comp claims process, providing detailed information about the incident. 

  1. Gather comprehensive evidence against the third party, including witness statements, photos of the incident scene, and any available video surveillance that captures the event. 

  1. Consult with a specialized attorney experienced in third-party workplace injury claims to receive expert advice on navigating the legal process. 

  1. File a detailed claim against the responsible third-party, outlining the specifics of the case, demonstrating their negligence, and clearly stating the damages sought. 

  1. Comply with all legal requirements and adhere to deadlines specific to your state to ensure your claim is processed efficiently. 

  1. If a settlement cannot be reached, be prepared to proceed to trial where a judge or jury will determine the outcome, understanding the importance of a solid legal strategy. 

  1. Work closely with your legal representative to seek full compensation for your injuries and losses, leveraging their expertise to handle legal proceedings. 

  1. Keep detailed records of all communications, documents, and expenses related to your injury and claim to support your case. 

  1. Be proactive in your recovery process, following medical advice and attending all treatment sessions, as this demonstrates your commitment to regaining your health. 

  1. Consider mediation as an alternative to trial, which can be a quicker and less adversarial way to reach a settlement with the third party. 

  1. Stay informed about your rights and the workers' comp system to make educated decisions throughout the claims process. 

  1. Maintain a positive and cooperative relationship with your employer and legal team, as their support can be crucial in achieving a favorable outcome. 

When a Third-Party Claim Is Necessary

Every workplace is a dynamic setting where employees may interact with a variety of entities outside the company, each potentially bearing partial or total responsibility for an injury. In the context of vehicles, for example, road accidents can lead to legitimate third-party claims.  

Product liability claims can profoundly impact your path to total recovery. If your injury stemmed from faulty equipment or unsafe products, the manufacturer or distributor could potentially be held liable in a third-party claim.

For example, if a worker’s injury is linked to a defective forklift, the manufacturer of the machinery may be subject to a product liability claim, independent from workers' comp benefits. 

Thorough investigations can be monumental in proving fault and strengthening your third-party claim. In instances of a hazardous premise, like a slippery floor, documented negligence on the part of a property owner or tenant may be crucial evidence. Similarly, injuries resulting from a construction site’s unsafe working conditions can trigger liability claims against property owners, managers, and contractors. 

How an Attorney Can Help You Pursue Compensation

Legal representation in matters of workplace injury is not only advisable but often pivotal in ensuring that you maximize the financial recovery available to you.

Our legal team at Gerstner Adam Law has the resources to dissect the intricacies of your claim and assert your rights effectively, whether negotiating a settlement or litigating in a court of law. Schedule a free consultation today to get the legal support you need during these trying times.