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When can you file a third-party claim in a workers’ comp case?

Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to keep injured workers and their employers out of litigation every time an accident happens, and that makes it somewhat of a compromise system.

Sure, if you’re injured at work, your employer’s workers’ comp plan will cover any medical bills related to the accident and give you some replacement wages. It won’t compensate you for all your losses, however, and you can’t collect anything for your pain and suffering.

Fortunately, you do have the right to bring a lawsuit against any third-party who may have caused or heavily contributed to your injuries. Such a third-party claim operates outside of the workers’ comp system.

Common situations that give rise to third-party claims

Not every workplace injury will result in a third-party claim, but they’re probably a lot more common than you realize. Here are some examples of how they can happen:

  • You’re a delivery driver, and another drives through a red light while distracted by their phone, crashing right into you. You could sue that driver.
  • You’re a construction worker, and a distracted driver clipped you when you were on a road crew. You have every right to expect that driver to compensate you.
  • You’re a landscaper, and you got hurt falling through the rotten boards covering a hidden well the property owner forgot to warn you about. You can take action through a premises liability claim.
  • You’re a machinist, and the equipment you were using flew apart in your hands and injured you. You may have a case against the manufacturer or the repair company in charge of maintaining the equipment.
  • You’re an office worker, and the contractor who repairs the printers left cords all over the place, leading to your trip and fall. You may have a case against the contractor’s company for their negligence.


When you’re injured, unable to work and worried about your family’s future, it’s always wisest to explore every option for recovery you have. Talk your situation over with someone who can help you understand the possible legal avenues for compensation.


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