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Third Parties

If you have been injured at work, you may think that the only legal action you can bring against your employer or co-workers is a claim for workers compensation. Unfortunately workers compensation payments are often low, usually are limited in duration. Additionally, compensation for pain and suffering or losses to family members is generally not allowed.

In addition to your workers compensation claim, you may also have a claim against a "third party," such as the manufacturer of unsafe equipment, the owner of the premises or vessel where the injury occurred (if different from your employer), or you may have a claims against another company whose employee caused the injury.

The third-party claim compensates a person injured in an auto accident for damages, such as his or her past, present, and future non-economic losses and any excess economic losses if applicable. A third-party plaintiff is not entitled to sue the negligent driver for compensation for any economic damages which have already been paid or are owed by the plaintiff's own first-party insurance company.

In a third-party claim, a plaintiff sues the driver or owner of a vehicle, alleging negligence causing an auto accident injury. If the driver or owner of the vehicle has no-fault insurance, the person injured in the auto accident may sue him or her for certain damages such as pain and suffering, as long as the claimant's injuries meet the threshold requirement of death, permanent serious disfigurement, or serious impairment of body function. The plaintiff may also sue for any economic losses resulting from the auto accident that exceed the statutory no-fault maximum amount. Claims cannot be made for loss of earning capacity.

Workers Compensation benefits are the employee's exclusive remedy against the employer or a co-worker for an on-the-job injury, but if the accident was caused by the fault of a third party, the injured worker may sue the responsible party for the full measure of damages including pain, suffering, full lost wages, reduction of earning capacity, medical and other related bills and expenses, incurred in the past and such damages likely to be incurred in the future.

The Statute of Limitations or time a person has to file a Third Party lawsuit is 3 years. Minors are allowed until one year past their 18th birthday and there are certain other exceptions for military personnel and those judged mentally incompetent.

Common situations where these "third party lawsuits" arise is:

  • when the injury occurs at a construction site; when the employee is in a car accident while in the course of employment.
  • when the employee trips on a defective condition which was caused by an outside company, or the employer's landlord or maintenance company.
  • when a defective product causes the injury; when an injury is worsened by medical malpractice; and many other times.

If you were seriously injured on the job, it would be wise to discuss your case with an attorney to see if you can sue for the full measure of your damages on top of your worker's compensation benefits. If you can make such a recovery, you will have to re-pay the compensation insurance company for the compensation benefits you received, but the law requires this lien to be reduced by the proportionate amount of attorney fees and other expenses incurred in getting the recovery. Injured employees can recover substantial sums in these third party lawsuits, even after the expenses and lien. Call The Sheena Law Firm today to discuss your case.

Danny M. Sheena, P.E.

The Sheena Law Firm
2500 West Loop South, Suite 518
Houston, Texas 77027
(713) 224-6508 - Office
(713) 225-1560 - Fax

Email: [email protected]


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