More on Third Party Claims

I liked Dave’s last post about third-party claims. It’s not a topic we’ve talked about very much, but it can be an important avenue of recovery for someone severely hurt at work. So, what types of situations will result in a claim against a third-party?

We see a lot of third party claims involving injuries on construction sites. Just think of all the activity on your everyday construction project. The General Contractor has the overall duty to provide a safe work environment for all workers on the site. The General contracts with a number of specialty subcontractors.   It’s not unusually to have  subcontractors in charge of site preparation, framing, electrical, plumbing, mechanical work, roofing, cement and even landscaping. Each of these subcontractors hires their own employees, and must make sure those workers are performing their work safely, and just as importantly, not endangering any of the other workers on the site. So, if the framer leaves a hole in a floor uncovered and an employee of the electrician falls through it and is injured, there is a potential third-party claim against the framing subcontractor and maybe the General Contractor as well. A roofer who doesn’t tie off properly and falls off a roof injuring himself does not have a claim against his own employer, other than his workers compensation claim. But, the landscaper who is hit by the roofer’s falling ladder may very well have a third party claim against the roofing subcontractor. Any work injury which occurs at work site with multiple employers or subcontractors should be carefully evaluated for potential third party claims.

 If a product or piece of equipment being used by a worker, but not owned by the workers employer, fails or is defective there may be a third-party claim against the product manufacture or owner. For example, a metal ladder with a faulty weld or a rented back hoe with no functioning back up warning signal. If either of these defects proximately causes a work injury the product manufactory or owner may be held responsible.

 If the worker is driving as part of regular work duties and is involved in a motor vehicle accident, there may be a third party claim against the negligent driver. If a worker is assaulted by a customer, there may be a third party claim. A worker who is injured on physical premises not owned or maintained by his employer, may have a third party claim. For instance, the delivery driver who slips on ice on the loading dock while making a delivery, may have a claim against the company responsible for the property. Any number of situations can give rise to a potential third party claim. As a general rule of thumb, if a work injury involves some entity other than your immediate employer, some product or equipment that your employer does not own or control, you should explore your options. As Dave mentioned, third party claims involve proof of negligence, which worker’s compensation claims do not require, and they can take a long time to resolve. But they can also be an effective tool in making sure your recover for all your damages, not just the limited statutory benefits provide in our workers compensation laws.

4 thoughts on “More on Third Party Claims

  1. I think that any claim that happens with a construction site, it should take the highest priority. There are many things that can make a claim go stale too if you are not careful. Nice post by the way.

  2. I BEN ON L AN I SINCE JAN. 2004, IT WAS ON A CONSTRUCTION RITE AWAY .I HAVE NO REAL HANG UP COUPLE OVERPAYMENTS, I CREATED NOT L AN I. BUT 3 BACK SURG. AN 2 TOTAL LEFT HIP REPLACEMENTS AND NOW A L5S1 FUSION AROUND THE CORNER.I HAD IME APPT. IN MARCH AND NOW NO ONE SEEMS TO BE ABLE TO TELL ME OF THE FINDING LOOK ON STATE HOME PAGE NOWERE.AT MY LAST VISIT WITH PRIMARY HE SAID SOMETHING ABOUT CAT. 3 ON BACK CAN SOME PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT THAT MIGHT MEAN.I WOULD LIKE GET AS MUCH INFO AS I CAN THANKS

    • Permanent partial disability for many conditions is rated using a Category system found in our Washington Administrative Code (WAC). Each category is a percentage of total bodily impairment (TBI). A Category 3 low back is 10% of TBI. So, your PPD award would be 10% of TBI, which is determined by your date of injury. TBI for a January 2004 injury is $151,173.90 – a category 3 low back for your January 2004 injury would be a PPD award of $15,117.39. There should be a separate rating for the hip replacements. Permanent partial disability is rated and paid when a claim is closed. If you are facing another surgery, you are not yet at maximum medical improvement, and any PPD rating doesn’t mean very much.
      A PPD award also assumes you are able, or have been found able, to return to work. If you are not employable because of your industrial injury, then you are permanent totally disabled, and should receive a pension award. You may still see PPD ratings in the medical reports, but you will not receive the award, because you will receive the monthly pension benefit instead.

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