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When Is A Third Party Liable For Your Workplace Injuries?

When Is A Third Party Liable For Your Workplace Injuries?
Christian J. Amendt

For most injuries that occur at a workplace, such as on a construction site, the worker has the protection of California’s workers’ compensation program to offset the personal losses associated with their injury or illness. However, there are circumstances in which workers’ compensation may not apply or where the temporary or permanent disability benefits do not cover enough of a worker’s income to allow them to continue supporting themselves and their family.

In those situations, it is perfectly natural to want to take action to close the gap between the benefits you have and the impact of your accidents on your life and your family’s standard of living. In certain situations, you may be able to bring a third-party liability claim related to a construction site accident, regardless of the success of your workers’ compensation claim related to the incident. 

Did a defective product play a role in what happened?

If you got hurt while performing a standard task at work because of an electrical short in a tool or because a component of that tool failed, a defect in that product may be to blame. In some cases, a company releases a product that fails after heavy use or even when used as intended.

Other times, individual units or otherwise functional and safe tools can malfunction due to inadequate quality control by the manufacturer. If you have reason to believe that a defective tool or piece of equipment contributed to your injuries, you may be able to make a claim against the company that manufactures that product. Most companies carry third-party liability insurance, but if they deny your claim, a lawsuit could become necessary.

Did your employer or a supplier fail to maintain equipment or facilities?

Sometimes, workplace injuries occur because a company fails to adequately invest in the maintenance of its facilities or equipment. Inadequate safety gear or outdated and poorly maintained machinery could easily contribute to catastrophic workplace accidents that have permanent consequences for the staff members involved.

If a lack of basic maintenance or upkeep contributed to the circumstances of your accident, the company that failed to perform that maintenance could have some liability for your injury, outside of the consequences tied to workers’ compensation claims.

Was another company involved and possibly liable?

When multiple businesses work on the same projects, issues can arise due to a lack of communication or differences in policies and practices. For example, a subcontractor for another company may not have known the right safety protocol for turning the power on at a site with active wiring going on, leading to burns or electrical injuries.

When mistakes, negligence or defaults on the part of a third party play a role in a workplace injury, it can complicate workers’ compensation claims. However, the same issue that complicates the process of getting the benefits you need can create a new source of potential compensation. A personal injury lawsuit brought against a third party with liability for your accident can help you recover your financial losses.

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