What is A Third Party Claim?
A third party liability case is when an injured worker sues another company that is not their direct employer but contributed to causing their injury.
Third party liability claims are important for injured workers because the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, like other workers’ compensation acts across the United States, prevents injured workers from suing their direct employer or the injuries they sustained.
For example, imagine an oil rig deckhand employed by Company A on a drilling rig and platform. Company A has a Workers’ Compensation Insurance policy. While on the drilling platform, Company B works together with Company A to start drilling operations. If the oil rig deckhand is injured while on the job, that worker could not sue Company A directly but could sue Company B. The injured worker suing Company B would be a classic example of a third party liability claim.
Workers’ Compensation vs. Third Party Claims
Types of Damages and Amounts Recoverable Are Very Different
Overall, the damages an injured worker can recover in a Workers’ Compensation Claim can be significantly less than a third party liability claim because the Workers’ Compensation Act limits the types of damages a worker can recover from their employer. Typically, the only damages recoverable under a Workers’ Compensation claim are going to be limited to medical care expenses and income benefits for lost wages.
However, the damages for a third party liability claim are not limited to medical care expenses and income benefits. In these cases, an injured worker can recover the damages in the Workers’ Compensation claim itself and additional damages such as damages for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, disability, disfigurement, punitive damages, and other damages awarded by the jury. Therefore, an injured worker needs to contact an attorney to ensure they receive the maximum compensation they deserve for their injuries.
How Are Third Party Cases Different From Workers’ Compensation Cases?
There are many distinct differences between a third party liability claim and a claim made through Workers’ Compensation when it comes to the law and courts. One of the largest differences is the burden of proof regarding the employer’s negligence versus the third party’s negligence. Under a Workers’ Compensation claim, an injured worker does not need to show that the employer acted in a negligent or dangerous manner to receive the insurance policy benefits. The worker only needs to show that they were injured while working for their employer. For third party liability cases, the injured worker must show that the third party contributed to the accident that caused their injury. Many third party liability attorneys, such as the attorneys at Morrow & Sheppard, can explain to the jury how the third party contributed to the worker’s injury and thus should be ordered to compensate the injured worker.
Can I Still Sue If My Employer Has Workers’ Compensation?
Yes, you normally just can’t sue your employer.
The general rule is that once an injured employee accepts benefits from their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, they can no longer directly sue their employer. However, there are exceptions to this rule that often apply. The two exceptions apply when an employer intentionally causes a worker’s injury or was grossly negligent and caused the worker’s injury.
Examples Of Third Party Lawsuits in Workplace Injury Cases
What Do Real World Third Party Cases Actually Look Like?
One case that Morrow & Sheppard recently resolved involved an oil rig worker who was injured while working on a blowout preventer in West Texas between Abeline and Midland. While our client was working on the blowout preventer, an industrial chain hoist cable and hook fell down and landed on the worker’s neck and shoulder, causing him significant injuries and preventing him from working for over 2 years. His primary employer had Workers’ Compensation insurance and thus paid him medical and income benefits. However, there were other major oil companies on the rig that had control of the item that fell and control of the area where the item fell down from. With those facts, we were able to show that those third parties were responsible for his injuries, and they paid him multiple times more than what Workers’ Compensation provided him.
This is just one example of the type of cases that Morrow & Sheppard handles. Our attorneys have also handled third party liability cases in the context of oil rig explosions, 18-wheeler accidents, and construction site accidents. Every injury and every case are different, let our attorneys guide you through the process of making a third party liability case.
How Much Are Third Party Cases Worth?
One of the largest third party liability cases in Houston resulted in a $13 million verdict for an injured worker. In that case, the injured worker suffered burns to almost half his body when a chemical tank ignited and engulfed the worker in flames. Although his direct employer was shielded by a Workers’ Compensation policy, there was substantial evidence that the other companies on the job sites caused the fire that injured the worker. Thus, the injured worker and his spouse were able to recover a significant amount more than if they had not pursued a third party liability claim.
Another significant third party liability case verdict came from Lubbock, Texas. In that case, an oil rig servicer was left as a paraplegic when one of the oil rig elevator hooks malfunctioned and struck the worker in the neck. The jury heard testimony about how the third party company was responsible for installing the elevator correctly and failed to do so. The jury awarded the injured worker and his spouse over $7 million in damages.
Award-Winning Texas Third Party Work Injury Attorneys
At Morrow and Sheppard, our attorneys have obtained multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements for injured workers. Let one of our award-winning Texas third party liability claim attorneys handle your injury case and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact Morrow & Sheppard LLP at (800) 489-2216 for a free, confidential consultation.
Does Workers’ Compensation Prevent You From Bringing A Third Party Claim?
No, Workers’ Compensation does not prevent you from bringing a third party liability claim for your injuries.
Can I Recover More Money With A Third Party Claim vs. Workers’ Compensation?
Yes, third parties do not get the same protections as companies protected under Workers’ Compensation. Therefore, you can recover more damages from the third party liability claim.
What Is Subrogation And How Does It Impact My Third Party Claim Settlement?
Subrogation is the assumption by a third party of another party’s legal right to collect debts or damages. In the context of third party liability cases, this means that the Workers’ Compensation insurance company will want to collect some of the payments made by third party to the injured worker. Although the insurance company has a legal right to be fully reimbursed, our firm will fight to reduce their amount as much as possible.
What Types Of Third Party Cases Does Morrow & Sheppard Handle?
Here at Morrow & Sheppard, we handle a wide range of third party liability cases, including serious workplace injuries that result in painful recoveries and lost wages. If you have been injured at work and want to see if you can make a third party liability claim, our attorneys will guide you through the process and get you the maximum compensation you deserve.