Outside Influence: Third Party Work Injury Claims

Posted by & filed under Workers' Comp.

Normally, when you are injured on the job or at your place of work, you would file for workers’ compensation as the exclusive remedy for your injuries. However, on rare occasions, you may be able to bring suit against a third party if you can show they played a significant role in your injury.

Who Is Potentially Liable and For What?

In the context of an injury claim, anyone who is not performing a task directly under the aegis of your employer is considered a third party, even if affiliated with your company. Thus, people like independent contractors, outside vendors and equipment manufacturers, while they may be doing a job in contact with your employer, are not employees; they are third parties. They may be sued under any personal injury theory.

Most people associate third-party claims with auto accidents, and while this is indeed a common cause of action, there are many other situations in which a third-party personal injury claim is appropriate. Some include:

  • Product liability. While your employer may sue the manufacturer or seller if you are injured by a defective product, you may be able to bring suit yourself.
  • Premises liability and construction accidents. Landowners have an obligation to exercise reasonable care in making their home or business safe for those who are on the land. If you are injured due to a landowner’s failure to warn or make safe, you may have a case.
  • Simple negligence. If an outside vendor, for example, is permitted on-site, they have a duty to exercise care appropriate to their job. If they fail to do so, they are negligent and can be held liable in many situations.
  • Any wrongful death claim where a third party may have played a role. Workers’ compensation will simply not pay out enough in many situations.

Third-Party Claims in South Carolina

South Carolina law does state that a workers’ compensation claim is the exclusive remedy for on-the-job injuries, but a workers’ compensation claim may only be mounted against one’s employer. If a third party is culpable in your accident, the remedy is a standard personal injury suit or wrongful death action, depending on the nature of what occurred.

It is important to remember that in South Carolina, if you both file for workers’ compensation and mount a personal injury case against a third party, you must complete your workers’ compensation case first, otherwise it is possible that it may be forfeited. The purpose of a third-party claim is to make one whole after an injury, but a workers’ compensation insurer is entitled to a lien on any award if it is received before the conclusion of your workers’ compensation case.

A Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help

Being injured is bad enough; being injured on the job can be more distressing due to its complexity. Being injured by a third party can be more complex and worrisome still. In moments like this, a competent, experienced legal professional can be a lifesaver. The North Charleston workers’ compensation attorneys at Callihan & Syracuse are knowledgeable and compassionate, and will work with you every step of the way to work toward making you whole. Call us today for a free initial consultation.