In California, your employer has a duty to provide no-fault workers’ compensation coverage. You can obtain workers’ comp benefits without proving that your employer was “at fault” for your accident. However, you cannot file a personal injury claim against your employer for a job-related accident. That being said, you can sue a negligent third party, including contractors, property owners, and equipment manufacturers. Here, our Fresno work injury lawyer highlights four of the most important things that you need to understand about third-party liability claims in California.
- You Have the Right to Sue a Negligent Third Party
In California, workers who are injured on the job by a negligent third party—which state law defines as a person or entity other than their own employer—have the right to file a third-party liability claim. For example, if you are injured by a defective piece of machinery while working, you can sue the manufacturer of the equipment. Alternatively, if you are injured while working at a construction site due to a non-employer subcontractor, you may be able to sue that company.
A key point about workers’ compensation insurance in California is that it is no-fault coverage. In contrast, a third-party liability claim is a fault-based personal injury lawsuit. A successful third-party liability claim requires proving that the defendant’s negligence contributed to the accident. A comprehensive investigation of a serious workplace accident is a must. Evidence of fault matters.
Through a third-party liability work injury claim in California, an injured worker can pursue financial compensation for the full extent of their damages, including economic damages and non-economic losses. You can recover more in a third-party liability claim than in a workers’ comp claim. Financial compensation may be provided for all medical bills, future medical costs, lost wages, loss of earning power, pain and suffering, and other non-economic damages.
Filing a third-party liability claim does not preclude you from obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. You should always file for workers’ comp benefits in California. Workers’ comp can provide immediate financial assistance—covering medical bills and a portion of lost wages on a no-fault basis. Workers’ comp claims are generally also processed more quickly than third-party liability cases. Still, it is important to understand that you can file a fault-based third-party liability lawsuit after filing a workers’ comp claim.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is a top-tier, results-driven work injury lawyer. It is our mission to help clients secure the maximum available financial benefits. If you have any questions about third-party liability claims, we are here to help. Contact ustoday for a confidential consultation. With a legal office in Fresno, we handle third-party liability work injury cases throughout the region.