Workers' Comp and Third-Party Lawsuits

Workers’ Comp and Third-Party Lawsuits

Workers’ Comp and Third-Party Lawsuits

In the event of a work injury or a work-related illness, you likely have the right to receive workers' compensation benefits, ensuring coverage for essential medical care and assistance with bills during your work absence.

However, suppose your injury happens because of someone other than your employer or a colleague. In that case, exploring financial compensation through a third-party claim becomes an option.

While a successful third-party case may offer more substantial compensation than a workers' comp claim alone, you must meet specific criteria for eligibility.

Never overlook the opportunity for additional compensation through a potential third-party claim. Enlisting a seasoned workers' compensation lawyer can ensure that you pursue the compensation rightfully due to you.

Your New Jersey Workers' compensation attorney is a reliable guide through the intricacies of the legal system, advocating for your interests at every stage of the process. This professional support ensures that you don't miss out on potential avenues for compensation and protects your rights throughout the proceedings.

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The Differences Between Third-Party Claims and Workers' Compensation Claims

Third-Party Claims and Workers' Compensation Claims

Workers' compensation claims and third-party liability claims are distinct legal avenues. Workers' compensation is a state-mandated system designed to aid eligible employees with job-related injuries or illnesses.

An injured employee submits a claim to their employer's insurance provider during this process. Upon approval, workers' comp covers relevant medical expenses, partially compensates for lost income, and provides disability benefits. 

One significant component of workers' comp is that the injured worker isn't required to establish their employer's fault. However, this no-fault arrangement typically restricts employees from suing their employers.

On the other hand, a third-party claim involves a personal injury lawsuit initiated by the injured worker against an entity other than their employer. To succeed in a third-party claim, the worker must demonstrate that the third party is responsible for their injuries, compelling the third party to compensate the injured employee for the resulting harm.

Several critical distinctions exist between initiating a third-party injury claim and filing a workers' compensation claim following a workplace incident. These differences include:


A third-party injury claim is open to anyone injured due to a non-employer's reckless, careless, or malicious actions. However, in many states, workers' comp benefits are exclusive to specific categories of employees.

Domestic servants, agricultural workers, federal employees, and independent contractors often fall outside the legal definition of an employee, rendering them ineligible for workers' compensation.

Burden of Proof

A third-party injury claim requires the injured party to demonstrate that another party's negligence or intentional conduct contributed to the injuries. Substantiating the other party's liability is crucial for a successful claim.

Conversely, workers' compensation is accessible to eligible employees regardless of fault, provided they weren't intoxicated or violating company policies when the injury occurred.

Types of Compensation

A third-party injury claim allows for comprehensive compensation, covering economic losses like medical expenses and lost income and subjective losses such as pain and suffering.

On the other hand, workers' compensation, while guaranteeing full coverage for medical expenses, provides only partial reimbursement for lost income and doesn't include compensation for pain and suffering.

Compensation Amounts

A third-party injury claim features significantly divergent compensation amounts compared to workers' comp claims. Workers' compensation benefits are constrained by state laws and the individual's average weekly earnings.

In contrast, third-party injury lawsuits are limited only by the liable party's financial capacity, with the potential for substantial compensation in the event of a successful work injury verdict.

Determining Liability in a Third-Party Personal Injury Claim

Determining Liability in a Third-Party Personal Injury Claim

Identifying potentially liable parties in a third-party personal injury claim involves considering various individuals or entities beyond your employer. While exceptions exist, typical examples of those who can be liable include:


  • Definition: Individuals such as customers, contractors, bystanders, or motorists who are not employees.
  • Liability: May be accountable if their actions directly contributed to causing your work-related injury.

Property Owner:

  • Definition: Individuals who own property where the injury occurred.
  • Liability: Responsible if the property owner fails to maintain a safe environment, leading to your injury.

Equipment Manufacturer:

  • Definition: The entity responsible for producing a defective piece of work equipment.
  • Liability: Potentially accountable if a design flaw or manufacturing issue causes the equipment to malfunction, resulting in your injury.

Government Entity:

  • Definition: Agencies or entities representing the government.
  • Liability: Might be held responsible if their negligence in maintaining public property contributes to your injury while performing work duties.

Understanding the diverse range of potentially liable parties ensures a comprehensive exploration of third-party claims for maximum compensation in the aftermath of a workplace injury.

The Benefits of Pursuing a Third-Party Lawsuit Alongside a Workers' Compensation Claim

Filing a third-party injury claim concurrently with a workers' compensation claim offers numerous advantages, expanding the scope of potential benefits for the injured party.

Consider the following key benefits and reasons to explore both avenues:

  • Full Compensation for Lost Wages: A third-party lawsuit allows you to seek the complete value of your lost income, providing a comprehensive financial recovery that may exceed the limits set by workers' compensation.
  • Future Financial Planning: The potential for increased compensation in a third-party claim enables you to better plan for future financial needs, covering ongoing medical expenses, rehabilitation, and any long-term impact on your earning capacity.
  • Simultaneous Benefits: Initiating a third-party claim doesn't hinder your ability to file a workers' compensation claim. Simultaneously pursuing both avenues ensures you can continue to receive workers' comp benefits while awaiting the resolution of your third-party liability claim.
  • Expanded Coverage: Workers' compensation typically covers medical expenses and a portion of lost income. A third-party lawsuit broadens the scope, allowing you to address additional losses such as pain and suffering.
  • Protecting Your Interests: By filing a third-party claim alongside workers' compensation, you safeguard your rights and maximize potential compensation. This approach ensures you explore all available avenues for recovery without compromising your entitlement to workers' comp benefits.
  • Strategic Legal Representation: Engaging in both types of claims enables your attorney to formulate a comprehensive legal strategy. This approach ensures they consider all relevant factors, providing a robust foundation for negotiations and legal proceedings.
  • Multiple Avenues for Recovery: A third-party lawsuit introduces the possibility of compensation from a source beyond workers' compensation, potentially involving responsible third parties such as negligent contractors, manufacturers, or other entities contributing to the injury.

Understanding these benefits underscores the importance of a dual-claim approach, empowering injured individuals to seek comprehensive compensation and secure their financial well-being.

Determining the Potential Value of a Third-Party Work Injury Settlement

Determining the Potential Value of a Third-Party Work Injury Settlement

The specific amount one might recover in a third-party work injury settlement is inherently variable, and numerous factors contribute to the final determination. A seasoned attorney proficient in personal injury law can comprehensively evaluate your case, considering various elements to estimate potential compensation.

Here are key factors that may influence the value of your settlement, encompassing not only present but also future considerations:

Medical Expenses

A third-party settlement can encompass reimbursement for your existing medical expenses related to the work injury. This includes treatments, surgeries, medications, therapy, and any other healthcare expenditures incurred.

Skilled attorneys work with medical experts to estimate future medical expenses, ensuring that your settlement considers the ongoing healthcare needs resulting from the work injury.

Incidental Expenses

Beyond direct medical costs, incidental expenses such as travel to medical appointments are often recoverable. Your settlement may include compensation for transportation expenses associated with seeking necessary medical care.

Lost Earnings

Compensation for lost income is a crucial component. A third-party settlement can seek the full value of income lost due to the work injury. This includes income lost during recovery and any potential future income reduction resulting from the injury's impact on your earning capacity.

Pain and Suffering

While workers' compensation typically doesn't cover pain and suffering, a third-party settlement may include compensation for the physical pain, emotional distress, and overall diminished quality of life resulting from the work-related injury.

Permanent Disability

If the work injury leads to permanent disability, your settlement should account for the long-term impact on your ability to work and earn a living. This should cover your lost earnings from the time of your injury through your working years.

Your compensation should also address the lifelong pain and suffering you experience from your permanent injury.

In many personal injury cases, legal fees are contingent on a successful outcome. Your attorney's fees and expenses may be covered as part of the settlement, ensuring you receive the agreed-upon compensation.

Understanding these diverse factors allows your attorney to craft a compelling case for maximum compensation in a third-party work injury settlement. It's crucial to collaborate closely with legal professionals to navigate the complexities of the legal process and secure comprehensive recovery.

Understanding Subrogation Claims in Workers' Compensation

While subrogation extends beyond the realm of workers' compensation, it frequently surfaces in these cases. In workers' compensation, subrogation refers to the scenario where entities such as your employer or their insurance company can claim a share of the benefits you receive from your third-party workers' compensation case.

It's essential to clarify that the initiation of your workers' compensation case is your decision. Subrogation claims, in this context, center on third-party liability. The intricacies arise when there exists a possibility to pursue both workers' compensation benefits and legal action against a third party for the damages they have caused.

This is where the concept of workers' comp subrogation becomes pertinent.

In essence, the process unfolds as follows:

  • Initiation of Workers' Compensation Case: You, as the injured party, initiate your workers' compensation case to secure benefits for medical expenses, lost income, and other related costs resulting from a work-related injury.
  • Third-Party Liability: Simultaneously, if a third party, other than your employer, is deemed responsible for the injuries, you may have the right to pursue a separate legal action against that party. This legal action is distinct from the workers' compensation claim.
  • Subrogation Claims: The concept of subrogation comes into play when your employer or their insurance company seeks reimbursement for a portion of the benefits they have paid or will pay as part of your workers' compensation claim. This reimbursement typically comes from any damages recovered in the third-party liability lawsuit.
  • Coordination of Benefits: The coordination of benefits involves navigating the interaction between the workers' compensation claim and the third-party lawsuit. It aims to ensure fairness and prevent a double recovery of benefits for the same injury.
  • Maximizing Recovery: Successfully managing subrogation claims involves strategic considerations to maximize recovery for all involved parties. Balancing the interests of the injured worker, the employer, and the insurance company requires careful negotiation and legal knowledge and experience.

Sometimes, the workers' compensation insurance company will recognize that there is a third-party claim available. If you don't see it or don't want to pursue it for any reason, the insurer may ask you to either join in the lawsuit voluntarily or assign your claim to them.

Before making any decisions about this, speak to a workers' compensation attorney. In some states, the insurance company cannot initiate a third-party claim without your consent.

Subrogation claims in workers' compensation underscore the complex interplay between obtaining benefits for the injured worker and the potential reimbursement sought by the employer or their insurer from third-party liability settlements. Navigating these intricacies often requires seasoned legal guidance to achieve an equitable resolution for all parties involved.

Even though you may face subrogation, it may still be worth filing a third-party injury claim to seek additional damages.

Don't Handle Your Workers' Compensation or Third-Party Injury Claim on Your Own

Richard Reinartz, Workers' Compensation Attorney lawyer
New Jersey Workers' Compensation Attorney, Richard Reinartz

You can rely on your workers' compensation or personal injury lawyer to thoroughly investigate the specifics of your case so you can pursue workers' compensation and third-party liability claims where appropriate. Through such claims, you can hold all parties who contributed to your injuries and damages responsible to the fullest extent of the law in your state.

Seek your free consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney with The Reinartz Law Firm who can handle every aspect of your pursuit of compensation and financial protection.