What is a third-party claim after a workplace accident?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2024 | Workplace Accidents

When a workplace injury occurs in Massachusetts, workers’ compensation benefits often serve as a vital resource, covering medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. However, for individuals grappling with severe or enduring injuries, workers’ compensation might not fully address all incurred losses. In such cases, a third-party claim may be appropriate.

A third-party claim manifests as a personal injury lawsuit directed at a negligent party, excluding the employer or co-worker directly involved in the work-related injury. For instance, if the injury results from a defective product, malfunctioning equipment, the negligence of a driver or the actions of a subcontractor on a construction site, a valid third-party claim may be pursued against those negligent third parties.

Diverging from a workers’ compensation claim, a third-party claim mandates establishing the negligence of the implicated party as the cause of the injury. Furthermore, it extends the scope of compensable damages, encompassing elements like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and punitive damages. However, it is crucial to note that the pursuit of a third-party claim often involves a lengthier legal process, entailing litigation in a court setting.

The advantages of opting for a third-party claim

Embracing the option of a third-party claim can yield several benefits, offering a more comprehensive recovery from a workplace injury. Unlike workers’ compensation benefits that are restricted by legal limits, a third-party claim empowers individuals to seek full and equitable compensation. This encompasses past and future medical expenses, lost income, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering and other associated damages.

It also offers accountability. Workers’ compensation operates on a no-fault basis, refraining from assigning blame for workplace injuries. Contrastingly, a third-party claim serves as a platform to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.

Navigating the challenges of a third-party claim

While pursuing a third-party claim brings notable advantages, it introduces its set of challenges. Upon securing compensation through a third-party claim, workers’ compensation insurers may assert their right to recover benefits paid out. This entails negotiation or potential disputes over the extent of the insurer’s claim.

Third-party claims also often involve navigating through multiple parties and insurance entities, each with distinct interests and objectives. For instance, an injury on a construction site might involve interactions with the subcontractor’s employer, insurance company, legal representation and witnesses.

The statute of limitations in Massachusetts establishes a 3-year timeframe for filing personal injury lawsuits from the date of the injury. Failure to meet this deadline jeopardizes the right to legal recourse.


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