When someone gets hurt at work, their first recourse is usually to file a workers’ comp claim for their injuries. There are some exceptions to this, however. For example, if your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance and the workplace accident happened because of your employer’s negligence, you can sue them directly.
In states like West Virginia, there is also the possibility of filing a deliberate intent claim against your employer, even if they have workers’ comp coverage. Deliberate intent claims are extremely complicated, and they require a very high burden of proof, so this legal avenue should only be considered after consulting with an attorney who has in-depth experience successfully pursuing cases like these.
A more likely avenue for recovering compensation becomes available if a third-party shares responsibility for a workplace injury. Workers’ compensation laws do not prevent you from filing a personal injury lawsuit directly against a responsible party, and you may be able to collect damages over and above what workers’ comp offers.
When Would a Third-Party be Responsible for a Workplace Injury?
Third-party liability in workplace accidents is far more common than most people realize. A typical worker faces all types of dangers on the job each day, and of course, some industries are far more hazardous than others. The risks at work are not limited to hazards that are created by an employer’s negligence, there are numerous other parties that could be negligent as well.
Here are some examples of parties (other than an employer) who could be responsible for a workplace accident:
In many workplaces, there are contractors and subcontractors that are performing tasks alongside or nearby employees. This is particularly common on construction sites, in coal mines, oil drilling sites, and several other industries. If one of these individuals were to cause a workplace injury, they could be held directly liable.
For those who work in the transportation industry, on construction job sites, and other industries in which workers do a lot of driving, motor vehicle accidents are common. If a vehicle accident happens at work and it is caused by another driver or someone else that is not connected with your employer, then a claim can be filed directly against the responsible party.
Workplace accidents and injuries are frequently caused by defective or dangerous products. This is particularly true in industries where large pieces of equipment and heavy machinery is typically used. Examples include construction, manufacturing, coal and oil, and many others. When a faulty product causes a workplace injury, it may be possible to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the product.
If someone is doing work off-site on a property other than their employer, they must rely on the owner or the caretaker of the property to keep it safe and free of known hazards. Unfortunately, property owners do not always take the steps necessary to make sure those who are working there are in a safe environment. If their negligence were to result in an injury to a worker, this could be the basis for a premises liability claim against those responsible.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover with a Third-Party Liability Claim?
A third-party liability claim is a personal injury action that allows an injured party to recover damages not only for direct monetary losses such as medical bills and lost wages, but also for noneconomic losses such as pain-and-suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. In some rare cases, you might also be able to recover punitive damages if the actions that resulted in your injury were especially egregious.
The ability to recover damages far beyond what would be available with workers’ comp is one of the major advantages in filing a third-party liability claim. That said, you will also have the burden of proof to show that the responsible party was negligent. Proving negligence can be extremely complicated, which is why you should always work with a lawyer who knows how to win cases like these.
Injured at Work in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Assistance
If you were hurt in a West Virginia workplace, you might have legal options beyond just a workers’ compensation claim. In many of these types of cases, there might be a valid third-party liability claim. The best place to start is to get in touch with the attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for a free consultation.
We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed. Message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 to schedule your complementary consultation with a member of our legal team. We look forward to serving you!