When you use a traditional workers’ comp claim, it doesn’t matter who caused the injury. This is a no-fault system. You don’t have to prove that your employer was at fault and it doesn’t matter if you were at fault. You are still covered by workers’ comp laws if you got hurt on the job.
In some cases, however, you may consider starting a third-party workers’ comp claim. You are essentially not allowed to sue your employer, but you can sue a third party in some situations. What does this look like and why would you want to do it?
Someone else was responsible
By using a third-party claim, you are alleging that somebody else was responsible for your injury. This may be another individual or another company. You’re not suing your own company, as you’re already covered by workers’ comp, but you want to sue this third party.
For instance, maybe your employer gave you a ladder to use on the job. It was brand new, and your employer showed you how to set it up and get everything in place to use it safely. However, the ladder was defective. It broke as you were climbing it and you fell and suffered serious injuries to your ribs when you landed on a concrete surface.
You can’t sue your employer in a situation like this, though you can seek workers’ comp for getting injured on the job. But you may be able to use a third-party claim to show that the manufacturer of the ladder was responsible for your injury. They built a defective product and put you at risk. Since you do not work for that company, they don’t have the protection that your employer enjoys under workers comp laws, which says that they cannot be sued. You can sue this other company for their role in the incident.
These cases can become more complicated
It is important to note that a third-party claim can become a bit more complicated than your standard workers’ comp claim. This makes it especially important for you to understand all of the legal options at your disposal.