Workers’ Compensation: Workplace-Related Accidents and Third-Party Liability
In the state of New Jersey, the workers’ compensation system is “no fault,” meaning that an injured employee can obtain compensation regardless of responsibility or partial responsibility for the accident. Through the workers’ compensation system, an individual who was injured on the job can obtain compensation for lost wages as well as medical costs. Except in limited circumstances, however, once a workers’ compensation claim has been filed, the injured employee waives the right to file a civil lawsuit against an employer.
An experienced New Jersey workers’ comp lawyer can review the facts of your case and determine whether any third party or entity is responsible for causing your injuries and is therefore legally responsible for providing compensation. There are many different types of third-party claims, including:
- Product Liability: When an unsafe or dangerous machine or other defective product causes an injury, it may be possible to seek compensation against the designer, manufacturer or distributor based on The New Jersey Product Liability Act. A product defect can also be proved based on an inadequate warning or instruction.
- Premises Liability: In some instances, an employee is injured while working at a site controlled by an entity other than the employer, such as a salesman traveling to visit different customers throughout the day. If the entity fails to keep the property safe and free of hazardous conditions, the injured worker may be able to obtain compensation for his or her injuries and other damages.
- Auto Accidents: According to Title 34:15 and 34:15-7 of the New Jersey Code, when an employee is driving “in the course of business” and is injured in an automobile collision, filing a New Jersey personal injury lawsuit against the other driver could be an option.
Workers’ Compensation Vs. Third-Party Claims
An injured employee who files a workers’ compensation claim is usually obstructed from filing a separate lawsuit against their employer. If a New Jersey workers’ comp lawyer reviews your case and determines that you have a cause of action against a third party for your workplace-related accident, it is necessary to consider the differences between workers’ compensation versus third-party claims, including:
- Damages: A workers’ compensation claim does not allow an injured employee to seek reimbursement for punitive damages or pain and suffering. When an employee sustains a serious or life-altering injury, he or she might be entitled to significant damages against a liable third party.
- Treating Physician: Another significant difference between a workers’ compensation claim versus a third-party claim involves the treating physician. In a workers’ compensation claim, an injured employee is required to seek medical treatment from a provider who is approved for workers’ compensation cases. With a third-party claim, no such restriction on medical providers exists, allowing an injured employee to receive treatment from his or her primary care physician.
- Other Differences: A skilled New Jersey workers’ comp lawyer can explain all of the differences between a third-party action and a workers’ compensation claim, including the longer and more complicated procedures involved in third-party liability cases. Discussing whether or not it is appropriate to file both types of claims concurrently also is relevant.
Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. Can Determine if Third-Party Liability Action is Appropriate
An injured employee may have a legal basis for a cause of action against a third-party individual or entity in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. A New Jersey workers’ comp lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. can confirm which actions are appropriate based on the cause of your accident. Contact our office today to learn more.