When a worker sustains an on-the-job injury in Texas, the worker will likely turn to his employer’s workers’ compensation coverage to pay his medical bills and recoup his lost wages. However, workers’ compensation benefits are often not enough to cover all of a worker’s losses. Fortunately, workers’ compensation is not always the only option; third-party workplace injury lawsuits may be available in certain cases.
What is a third-party workplace lawsuit?
A third-party lawsuit, also known as a third-party claim, is a civil action an injury victim files against a third party for damages. The claim asserts that the third party acted negligently and that this negligence was the direct cause of the worker’s injuries.
The defendant must be someone other than your employer or co-worker (i.e., a third party) as workers’ compensation laws bar you from filing a lawsuit directly against your employer.
Victims must file a third-party liability claim within two years from the date that injury occurred, per Texas CP. Code § 16.003.
Whom can I name in a third-party liability claim?
You can file a third-party liability claim against any third party whose negligence contributed to or caused your injuries. Common parties named in a third-party liability suit may include:
- A product manufacturer: If your injuries would not have occurred but for a defective or dangerous product, the manufacturer of that product may be liable.
- The driver of another vehicle: Many workplace accidents involve non-employee drivers. For example, consider an accident in which a drunk driver swerves into a construction work zone and hits one of the construction workers. The injured worker may be able to file a third-party claim and hold the intoxicated driver liable for his injuries.
- A property owner: Sometimes, a property has dangers or hazards that the owner knew about or should have known about and should have corrected. If the owner does not correct the hazard in a timely manner and an employee sustains harm as a result, the injured employee may be able to hold the property owner liable.
The Benefits and Limitations of Third Party Liability Claims
Filing a third-party liability claim has both benefits and disadvantages. One of these benefits is that Texas places no cap on recoverable damages. As such, victims can recover the maximum amount of damages defendants owe them by requesting compensation for any of the following:
- Lost wages
- Medical benefits
- Future lost wages and medical benefits
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
Also, with a workers’ compensation claim, injured parties cannot recover compensation for any noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. For this reason, many injury victims may choose to file a third-party claim
However, a third-party liability claim also has its limitations. For example, in a workers’ compensation claim, the injured worker does not need to prove fault – the injured worker is entitled to benefits regardless.
In a third-party liability claim, on the other hand, proving the fault of the responsible third party is essential. If the victim cannot prove fault, then the injured party will not be able to hold the responsible party liable for damages and will receive no compensation.
However, even though proving fault can be difficult, injured parties who file third-party claims may be eligible for tens of thousands of dollars they would not have received had they settled for their workers’ compensation benefits.
Work With a Texas Attorney Today
If you are ready to work with a Texas workplace accident attorney who understands both the workers’ compensation system and the process of filing a third-party liability claim, contact the Law Office of Julie Johnson PLLC today.
Julie Johnson can help you understand all of the ins and outs of filing a third-party liability claim, its benefits and difficulties, the types of damages that you may be able to recover, and more. To contact her today, call 214-290-8001.
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