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What are Third Party Claims for Workplace Injuries?

January 16, 2020

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

In early November, a federal court dismissed a case against a lift manufacturer. The lawsuit was filed by family members of a worker who claimed that he died on the job due to defective equipment. He had been using the lift to replace light bulbs in a parking garage when he became crushed between a portion of the ceiling and the lift’s control panel.

Sadly, the incident happened in 2015 and the judge threw the case out because it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired. The case, although tragic, is an interesting one, as it shines light on the fact that not all workplace injuries or fatalities involve workers’ compensation claims. Sometimes, such as in this case, a third party claim is filed instead. So, how do you know which one to file if you’ve been hurt on the job?

Third Party Claims Are Different Than Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is available for employees that are hurt on the job. In most cases, it doesn’t matter how the accident happened because the workers’ compensation system in Pennsylvania is no-fault. That means even if the employer’s or employee’s negligence caused the accident, the worker is still eligible for workers’ compensation assuming that the employer has followed the law and carries this type of insurance.

Third party liability claims on the other hand, are personal injury lawsuits that are filed against a negligent party that had no connection to the employer. Contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers, manufacturers, cleaning companies, and repair companies are just a few of the parties that can have a personal injury lawsuit filed against them if they are negligent. In the most recent case, the claim was filed against a manufacturer of defective equipment.

Benefits of a Third Party Claims

Although most workers will likely have to file a workers’ compensation claim after being hurt on the job, it’s important to understand when a third party claim is appropriate.

An injured worker has only 120 days to file a workers’ compensation claim. If they attempt to file after this time, the insurance company will likely deny the claim. Unfortunately, that’s only approximately four months, which is sometimes not enough time to discover some injuries, such as occupational illnesses that develop over a long period of time.

The statute of limitations, or time limit, on third party liability claims on the other hand, is two years from the date of the accident. That allows injured workers much more time to file their claim and get the compensation they need.

A benefit of third party claims is that liability claims allow those hurt to receive much more in the form of damages. Workers’ compensation only provides for medical expenses and a portion of the worker’s lost income. Third party claims can provide for the worker’s full amount of income lost, pain and suffering and other non-economic losses, such as loss of consortium and support.

Do You Have a Third Party Claim? Call Our Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys

Third party claims are more complex than worker’s compensation and present their own unique challenges. If you’ve been injured by a third party while on the job, you need an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, we know what it takes to win these cases and we will aggressively pursue compensation from the insurance companies and the at-fault parties. If you’ve been hurt, call us today at (215) 486-0123 for your free consultation to learn more about how we can help.



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