Third Party

Most Arizona employees are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. An injured worker can receive workers’ comp benefits covering medical treatment and lost wages. If a worker is permanently disabled, they may receive disability benefits.

Generally, an injured worker is not permitted to sue their employer after a workplace accident. They are limited to the benefits they receive from a workers’ compensation claim. However, there are situations in which a worker may have a claim against a third party.

Understanding the difference between workers’ comp and third-party claims is important. Third-party liability could result in additional compensation for an injured worker.

What Are Third-Party Claims?

What Are Third-Party Claims?

A third party is not a principal party to the workers’ compensation claim. Instead, they are a party to a personal injury claim filed against them by the injured worker. In a third-party claim, the third party’s negligence was responsible for or contributed to the cause of the worker’s injuries.

A third-party claim is separate from a workers’ comp claim. People can receive workers’ compensation benefits and recover compensation in a third-party claim.

Examples of Third-Party Claims After a Workplace Accident

Many workplace accidents could result in a third-party claim. 

Examples of situations that could give rise to a third-party lawsuit include the following:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

If you are hurt in a traffic accident while on the job, you might have a third-party claim against the driver who caused the crash. For example, you were making deliveries for work when a driver ran a red light, causing a collision. Your third-party claim would be against the at-fault driver.

Premises Liability Claims

Suppose you were injured on someone’s premises because of negligence or dangerous property conditions. In that case, you may have a third-party claim against the property owner or other party in charge of the premises. A slip and fall accident is an example of a third-party premises liability claim.

Product Liability Claims

Defective tools and faulty equipment can cause injuries. If a defective product causes a worker to sustain injuries, they may have a third-party claim against the manufacturer under product liability laws.

Construction Site Accidents

A construction accident could cause severe injuries to a worker. If a property owner or subcontractor was negligent in causing the injuries, the worker may have a third-party claim.

Third-Party Claims Are Different From Workers’ Compensation Claims

There are three differences between workers’ comp and third-party claims. 

Third-Party Claims Are Based on Fault

You must prove fault before you can recover compensation in a third-party claim. 

Proving negligence requires you to have evidence establishing:

In a workers’ compensation claim, you only need to prove that you were injured during the ordinary course of your employment. However, in a third-party claim, you must prove that the third party was directly and proximately liable for causing your injuries. An exception exists in a product liability claim where the manufacturer is strictly liable for damages.

Comparative Fault May Apply in a Third-Party Claim

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Workers may be partially to blame for causing their injuries and still receive full workers’ comp benefits. However, comparative fault can apply to third-party claims.

Arizona’s pure comparative negligence statute does not bar an injured party from recovering compensation for damages. However, it does allow a judge to reduce the amount they receive by their level of fault. Therefore, if you are 10% to blame for causing your injuries, a judge could reduce the amount of compensation you receive in a third-party claim by 10%.

The Compensation Available in Third-Party Claims is Different

Workers’ compensation pays for medical care. However, it only reimburses the injured worker for a portion of their loss of income. Furthermore, workers’ comp does not compensate for pain and suffering damages.

Third-party claims can result in full compensation for all economic damages. You can also receive compensation for your non-economic damages

Examples of damages in a third-party claim include:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Reduction in earning capacity
  • Impairments and disability
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Rehabilitative therapies
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The amount you receive in a third-party claim depends on the circumstances. Your evidence proving fault and the types of injuries sustained are two factors impacting the value of a third-party claim.

Do You Have Questions About a Third-Party Claim?

If you were injured at work, you may receive more money for your injuries by filing a third-party claim. Call an Arizona workers’ compensation lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your situation. Contact the lawyers Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (602) 595-5559 for a free consultation to discuss your case.