Third-Party Liability in Workers Comp Claims

Workplace Accidents, Workers Compensation, and Third-Party Liability for Injuries on the Job

third-party liabilityWhen a worker is injured on the job, the obvious course of action is to file for workers compensation. Employers in every state in the US are required to pay for workers comp insurance to protect their workers.

However, workers comp claims pay out medical care specifically related to the workplace injury and for lost wages. If egregious safety violations from the employer are the cause of the workplace injury or accident, then there are few safety nets for employees that may need additional funds for chronic or long-lasting injuries, or for funeral expenses and financial compensation for families after the wrongful death of an employee.

Workers comp statutes often prevent injured employees, who are not at fault for their injuries and instead were the victims of safety violations, from filing a class action or tort claim against their employer. Often, third-party liability involves the manufacturers of machines or the drivers of trucks that cause workplace accidents, and not the employer or company that allowed the accident to happen through poor training, poor safety equipment, or pressure on employees to work faster or longer.

A United States Department of Commerce Interagency Task Force on Product Liability, covering claims from mid–1976 into early 1977, found that at least 10%of all products liability claims arose from workplace accidents, despite the fact that most product use is outside of the workplace. More current estimates suggest that up to 40% of products liability penalties are related to workplace injuries.

Since 2008, most new jobs in the country stem from independent contract employment, not direct hiring by a company. The temp industry in the US employs 2.8 million people. However, because these employees are “independent,” they are not covered by workers comp insurance in many cases, which means any compensation they receive for medical bills or lost wages must come from a third party tort.

Contract employees, according to many manufacturers and construction companies, should be covered by their hiring company – the temp company – and do not require workers comp coverage through the manufacturer itself. While companies that hire temp workers save money on workers comp costs, that cost comes at the expense of both the injured workers and the taxpaying public.

Temp employees, especially in blue collar work, receive little training and are often thrown into dangerous situations with heavy machinery. They may be unaware of OSHA violations involving dangerous premises or defective products. Modifications to aging equipment might constitute a “new” product which could give an injured worker the ability to file a third-party lawsuit for compensation. Additionally, if an equipment company fails to warn an employer, whether or not the hiring company is a temp service, then a third-party lawsuit could result in place of a workers comp claim.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Workers Comp Claims

The workers compensation lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government.  You need an attorney who will fight with you to the end. Give us a call today 803.252.4800 for a free workers comp case review.