Employees who are injured at their place of work may think that the employer is solely at fault, and that workers’ compensation is the only option for recovering losses. But that is not always the case. The Texas system of workers’ compensation is a valuable tool which can provide compensation for employees injured on the job. However, there are many cases in which a party other than the employer is partially or fully at fault for an accident, and you may be eligible to file a work injury claim against this third party. This type of claim is different from a workers’ compensation claim and may offer compensation beyond what workers’ compensation can provide.
An experienced work injury lawyer can help you determine if a third party was responsible for your injuries, and what you can do to take legal action against the negligence that resulted in harm to you or your loved one. Let’s take a closer look at what a third-party claim involves, and in what situations a third party may be responsible for a work-related accident.
What Is a Third-Party Claim?
When discussing workplace injuries, the two principal parties are the injured worker and the company that employs them. A third party is an entity or individual existing outside of the relationship between you, your employer, and your fellow employees. A third-party claim is therefore filed against a separate party that is not your employer.
A third-party claim can be somewhat more complicated than a workers’ compensation claim. Under Texas workers’ compensation law, in most situations you have the right to receive benefits regardless of who was at fault. In a third-party claim, however, you and your lawyer must be able to prove that the third party was negligent. This requires you to demonstrate that:
- A duty of care existed between you and the third party.
- The third party breached the duty of care.
- You suffered injuries due to the breach.
- Your injuries caused you to suffer losses.
The losses you suffered due to your injuries may be in the form of medical expenses, loss of income, disability, or physical or emotional damage. You and your attorney will work together to examine the evidence related to your accident. You will be able to use this evidence to prove negligence if it is determined that the third party was in fact at fault. If the third party’s negligent actions caused your work injury, you may be entitled to compensation.
When Is a Third Party Responsible?
In the state of Texas, popular industries including construction, manufacturing, home health and personal care work, oil field work, and commercial tractor-trailer driving frequently involve third parties. The following is a non-exhaustive list of workplace scenarios which may lead to fully preventable accidents caused by third parties:
- Construction Site Accidents. Most construction sites consist of multiple companies’ employees working together to complete a project. As a construction worker, you frequently interact with contractors and sub-contractors through work-related tasks. These individuals may be machine operators, vehicle drivers, electricians, engineers, or other skilled laborers. If any of these parties fails to uphold their duty of care by acting recklessly, operating machinery under the influence of drugs or alcohol, being poorly trained, or otherwise generating unsafe conditions for workers, they should be held accountable for the unnecessary risk and harm they caused.
- Defective Products. It is a widespread problem within the manufacturing industry for faulty, cheap, or malfunctioning machinery, tools, or safety equipment to be the cause of employee injury. If you are injured because a piece of equipment such as a forklift, generator, mixer, or shredder is defective and breaks down, it is within your right to identify the party who neglected their duty of care and pursue legal action against them.
- Car or Trucking Driving. Delivery drivers, commercial truck drivers, and anyone who operates a vehicle as part of their job are put in danger when they share the road with other drivers who are negligent and irresponsible. An individual who was involved in an auto collision while completing work responsibilities may be able to file a claim against the driver who was at fault in the accident.
- Property Owner Liability. When you have been hired to perform your job duties on another person’s property, you expect that the property owner will provide a safe environment for you to work. This does not always happen, and the property owner may be liable for your injuries if you are hurt on the job due to their failure to maintain and secure the grounds. This could include wet, icy, or slippery surfaces, broken stairs or ladders, falling or tripping hazards, danger of drowning, or violent, aggressive dogs on the property.
- Toxic Exposure. You may be able to work with your lawyer to file a claim against the manufacturer of a toxic substance that caused your illness or injury. Exposure to toxins, particularly prolonged exposure, can have devastating effects on the body. These toxic substances may include asbestos, chemical disinfectants and pesticides, and heavy metals such as lead and mercury. If you are unsure whether you have been exposed to a toxin, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases reports which help educate workers about chemicals that create potential hazards in work environments.
Get in Touch with a Midland Work Injury Lawyer
Our team at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm knows that Midland, TX is an exceptional place to live and work. When we see that our hardworking friends and neighbors have been injured on the job due to the negligent actions of another party, we want to take action to stop injustice from continuing. Our connections and our passions are rooted deeply in the community, and we see every client as a person with a story. If you would like to have a conversation about how we can help you recover the losses you sustained in a workplace injury, get in touch with us today to schedule a no-obligation initial consultation.