In Virginia, employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. This insurance covers employees who are injured by an accident on the job. But workers' compensation does not cover certain damages, leaving injured workers potentially seeking a personal injury claim against a third-party (i.e., not their employer).
What is a Third-Party Personal Injury Claim?
A third-party personal injury claim is made against someone other than your employer. For example, if you are a construction worker injured by a defective piece of equipment, you would file a third-party claim against the equipment manufacturer. Or, if you are injured in a car accident while on the job, you would file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver.
Why Would I File a Third-Party Claim?
There are two main reasons why you might file a third-party claim:
- To recover damages not covered by workers' compensation - Workers' compensation does not cover damages like pain and suffering, loss of consortium or punitive damages.
- To recover damages in excess of what workers' compensation would pay - In Virginia, there are limits on the amount of benefits you can receive from workers' compensation. If your workers' compensation payment is not meeting your post-injury needs, you might file a third-party claim to recover the additional amount.
Who Can Be Liable in a Third-Party Claim?
Since you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer due to workers' compensation, third-party claims leave you with having to establish liability with another separate negligent party. These parties can include:
- Product Manufacturers - If an employee is injured while using a piece of machinery, the manufacturer of that machinery could be held liable. This is because manufacturers have a duty to produce safe products that will not cause harm to those who use them.
- At-Fault Drivers - If your job requires you to be on the road (i.e., HVAC, construction, etc.), and an at-fault driver hits you, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them for damages.
- General Contractors - The general contractor is usually in charge of the construction site and is responsible for ensuring that the work is completed safely. If an accident occurs because of negligence on the part of the contractor, they may be held liable for any injuries.
- Site Owners - Site owners are responsible for ensuring that their property is safe for workers, visitors, and passersby. If they fail to do so and someone is injured as a result, they may be held liable under premises liability law.
- Architects or Engineers - In some cases, the site architect or engineer may be held liable. This is because these professionals are responsible for ensuring that the workplace meets all safety regulations.
- Medical Malpractice
How Reinhardt | Harper | Davis Can Help Injured Workers
At Reinhardt | Harper | Davis, we are committed to helping injured workers get the compensation they deserve. We have a team of experienced attorneys who know how to navigate the workers' compensation system and get results. We understand that being injured can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, and we will work with you every step of the way to make sure you get the care and benefits you need.
If you have been involved in a workplace accident resulting in an injury, call us today at (804) 294-2966 or fill out our form online.