Filing a Third-Party Claim for a Work Injury
When you’ve suffered any type of injury in the workplace, your first course of action is typically to notify your supervisor or employer and seek benefits through a workers’ compensation claim. Under New Jersey law, there are only two requirements—you must have suffered and injury and you must have been working at the time. Though a workers’ compensation claim can bring you benefits within a few weeks, if quickly approved, you will be limited with respect to the amount you can recover. Is a workers’ compensation claim your only option? Can you file a personal injury lawsuit after an injury on the job?
The answer—it depends. The workers’ compensation laws were enacted to provide an alternative to a civil lawsuit after a work injury caused by the carelessness or negligence of an employer or co-worker. An injured worker has access to benefits more quickly (a lawsuit may take months or years to resolve) and the employer avoids the possibility of an exorbitant damage award from a sympathetic jury.
However, the workers’ compensation laws only apply to injuries caused by the wrongful act of the employer or a co-employee. If you can show that your injuries were caused by an unrelated third party, you can still file a personal injury lawsuit in a civil court. In fact, you can file a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit simultaneously.
Examples of valid third-party claims include:
- Product liability actions, where an injury is caused by the breakdown or malfunction of a tool, machine or other device manufactured by a third party
- Claims for injuries suffered in a job-related motor vehicle accident, where the at-fault driver was neither the employer nor a co-worker
- Injuries caused by workers on adjoining sites
There are advantages and disadvantages to filing a third party claim. You may be able to recover more than the amount set forth in the workers’ compensation laws, but you’ll likely have to wait a long time to see any actual damage award, unless you settle your claim before trial.
Contact Attorney Howard D. Popper
To learn about how we can help you with a work injury claim, contact our office online or call attorney Popper at 973-993-8787. We have offices in Morristown and Newton, but will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary. There is no charge for your first consultation.
We handle all personal injury claims on a contingency basis. You won’t be charged any legal fees unless attorney Popper recovers compensation for your losses.