Arizona workers can sue a third party for their work injury in certain situations
Arizona law makes it so that those injured at work who accept workers’ compensation benefits are generally prevented from filing a lawsuit against their employer. However, often the medical benefits and lost wage payments received by injured workers are often insufficient to fully compensate them for the pain and suffering following their work-related injury.
While the workers’ compensation system is an essential safety net for many and can keep entire families afloat financially during a crucial time, employees who suffer harm in the workplace may still find themselves in need of additional resources.
In certain situations, injured workers in Arizona may have the opportunity to seek additional compensation from third parties who played a contributing role in the losses they suffered.
If you believe that another party besides your employer was responsible for your work-related injury or illness, consider talking to our Arizona workers’ compensation attorneys about filing a third-party negligence claim to help ensure that you receive full compensation.
Examples of third-party workplace injuries
There are many ways in which third parties may be involved in an injury that takes place on the job, including:
- Chemical manufacturer. A third party company may have been responsible for manufacturing a hazardous substance that is present at the worksite, including toxic chemical exposure which results in injury.
- Maker of a defective tool or equipment. A third party may have defectively designed or manufactured a product such as a tool or a piece of heavy machinery that ultimately injures a worker.
- Property owner. If a slip and fall accident occurs in a facility managed, maintained or owned by someone other than your direct employer (for instance, if your workspace is rented), then they may be held liable.
- Another driver. While driving for work-related purposes, another driver’s negligence may cause an injury accident away from the office or jobsite. In such cases, the at-fault driver may be liable for your pain and suffering.
- Contractor. If someone from another company (an architect, engineer, consultant, etc.) who is present on a worksite causes the work-related injury or illness, they or their company may be responsible.
Establishing liability in a third-party claim
In contrast to a workers’ compensation claim, an injured worker must present actual proof of negligence in a third-party personal injury lawsuit. In other words, the burden of proof is higher. To win such a case, it’s necessary to demonstrate that the accused party’s acts or omissions are to blame for the injury.
A plaintiff in a third-party workplace injury case must establish the following 4 elements:
- Duty. The accused party owed the injury victim a duty of care, whether direct or implied. Such a duty could arise simply by inviting a worker onto their property or by placing an unreasonably dangerous product onto the market.
- Breach. The duty was breached, for example, by neglecting to maintain the property in a safe condition, disobeying traffic laws or producing items that were known or should have been known to present a risk of injury.
- Causation. The alleged breach must have actually caused the injury at issue. In other words, it must be shown that the worker would not have sustained harm had the accused not acted negligently.
- Damages. Measurable losses were sustained due to the injury, and these can include medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering and ongoing disability.
How to initiate a third-party workplace claim
Those who wish to pursue a third-party workplace injury claim must do so within 1 year of the incident in question. If this timeline is not met, the right to such a claim reverts back to the insurance carrier. After the first year, the injured party must ask the workers’ compensation carrier for a reassessment and must file suit before the 2-year statute of limitations.
When filing a claim, it’s necessary to give notice to the insurance carrier that handled the underlying workers’ compensation claim. The carrier must be kept informed of all developments in the third-party case, including details of all pleadings, rulings, etc.
If and when a settlement is reached with the third-party defendant, the workers’ compensation insurance company will have to provide its written consent to the arrangement, or else benefits received under the original workers’ compensation claim may be lost.
It should also be noted that certain parts of this type of lawsuit settlement are generally subject to a lien from the workers’ compensation insurer, and these include benefits paid for hospitalization, surgery expenses, medical treatments and lost income.
How an experienced Arizona work injury lawyer can help
When the unexpected happens and a serious injury or illness results from time spent on the job, you may have a claim for compensation. Recovery of medical expenses, lost earnings, pain, suffering, ongoing rehabilitation costs and more may be possible. However, the time you have to file a claim of this type is short. The sooner you consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer, the better.