An injured worker generally cannot file a lawsuit against their employer. Under California law (Labor Code Section § 3600), a workers’ comp claim is an injured employee’s “exclusive remedy” against their company or organization. In exchange, workers are entitled to no-fault benefits. They do not need to prove that their employer did anything wrong to get compensation.
That being said, injured workers have every right to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against a negligent third party. These are often referred to simply as ‘third party liability’ claims. In this blog post, our Fresno workers’ compensation attorney offers a guide to third party liability work injury claims in California.
In some cases, workplace accidents are caused by the careless, reckless, or otherwise irresponsible conduct of a third party. Injured workers always retain the right to file a lawsuit directly against any other defendant besides their employer. Some notable examples of defendants you may be able to hold liable in third party claim include:
- Property owners;
- Truck companies; and
As noted above, workers’ compensation benefits are no-fault. In other words, an injured worker can obtain benefits regardless of whether or not any other party “caused” their accident through wrongful conduct. A third party liability lawsuit is based on fault. To hold a third party legally responsible through a personal injury claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligent actions or inactions contributed to their injuries.
Additional Compensation May be Available
You may be wondering: Why should I file a third party liability claim for a work injury? The short answer is that additional financial compensation may be granted. If you can prove liability against a negligent third party, such as a contractor or a property owner, you can get money for pain and suffering and other losses. More total compensation may be available.
With workers’ compensation claims and third party liability lawsuits, injured employees in Fresno County are not required to choose. You always have the right to file for workers’ comp benefits after an accident. Additionally, even if you file, you still retain the ability to bring a legal claim against a third party. A workers’ comp lawyer can help you determine what steps to take to best protect your rights.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is a workers’ comp lawyer with the skills and legal expertise to handle the full range of third party cases. If you have questions about third party liability claims, we can help. Contact us today for a fully private review of your work injury claim. From our office in Fresno, we handle workers’ comp claims and third party liability claims throughout the region, including in Bakersfield, Clovis, Modesto, Stockton, Merced, Lodi, and Wasco.