When a workplace injury occurs, the primary recourse often involves filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, if the injury is caused by someone other than your employer or co-worker, there exists the potential for a third-party claim, offering an avenue for additional compensation.
A third-party claim, in essence, is a legal action directed at an individual or entity distinct from your employer or any co-worker, deemed responsible for contributing to or causing your work-related injury. For instance, if you are a delivery driver involved in a car accident caused by another driver, a potential third-party claim could be pursued against the driver and their insurance company.
Workers’ compensation claims and third-party claims are different as third-party claims operate on fault. In a workers’ compensation scenario, the system operates on a no-fault basis, requiring no demonstration of employer negligence. It mandates proving only that the injury occurred on the job or was a result of work activities.
Unlike workers’ compensation, a third-party claim extends beyond medical and wage benefits, incorporating compensation for pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life and even punitive damages, if egregious conduct contributing to the harm. Though, this is litigation, while workers’ compensation rarely rises to that level.
Statute of limitations
Recognizing the statute of limitations for filing a third-party claim in your state is crucial. In Florida, the general timeframe is 4 years from the date of the injury, though certain exceptions or extensions may apply.
Acknowledging the subrogation right of your workers’ compensation carrier is also essential. Subrogation entails the carrier’s right to recover benefits paid to you from any third-party claim recovery. Transparency with your workers’ compensation carrier about your intent to pursue a third-party claim is advisable, as is seeking their approval before considering settlement offers from the third party.
If you were hurt on the job, you can immediately get workers’ compensation, even if the injury was due to a third party. However, you can get additional compensation from a third-party claim.