Through California's Worker's Compensation Laws injured employees are able to recover from the limited benefits of their employer's insurance. But what happens in cases where an employee has sustained an on-the-job injury caused by someone other than the employer? Simply put, in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim, the injured employee may sue this third party (i.e., other person or entity) in tort law. Third party cases may fall into categories such as traffic accidents, slip & fall incidents, defective products, defective equipment or the exposure to toxic substances and any number of other situations.
If a worker suffers a significant injury, it is highly probable that they will not receive sufficient funds from a workers' compensation claim because workers’ compensation claims are not based upon fault whereas tort claims are based on fault and include monetary compensation for pain and suffering. Therefore, pursuing claims against a negligent third party is critical to ensure maximum compensation for injuries or death.
Every on-the-job injury should be evaluated by an experienced attorney to determine if a third party claim exists.
The personal injury component of a workers’ compensation claim is oftentimes overlooked. Here are just a few examples of such cases that my office has successfully handled (all clients were on-the-job but we also sued a third party on their behalf):
- Male bus driver rear-ended by automobile. He suffered a knee injury which required arthroscopic surgery. Significant confidential settlement.
- Female building maintenance person who slipped due to wet carpets when exiting the elevator of her office building. At the time of the incident, a carpet cleaning company (third party) was cleaning the carpet and failed to post signs warning of the dangerous condition. Serious knee injuries. Large 6-figure settlement against the carpet cleaning company.
- U.S. Postal Worker who was in Los Angeles on business suffered severe burns to his left foot due to the hotel’s providing scalding hot water to the shower. The client almost lost his leg due to complications. Significant settlement against the hotel.
- Male law firm investigator was rear-ended while in the field. He suffered injuries sufficient to require him to undergo neck and back surgeries. Policy limit settlement against the driver of the offending vehicle.
- Female Cal-Trans worker was in a lift changing a street light when an the top of an 18-wheeler grazed the bottom of her bucket, throwing her several feet out of the bucket. She hung in the air by her safety belts. The worker suffered severe physical and emotional injuries as a result. Significant 6-figure settlement against the trucking company.
The attorney handling the third party portion of the claim must work closely with the workers’ compensation attorney as well as with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier because of the unique legal issues presented in these situations.
If you have suffered a work related injury and have reason to believe that a third-party may bear some liability, please call or e-mail me to discuss your legal rights.