Third Party Claims
Learn About Third Party Claims from an Experienced Miami or Fort Lauderdale Workplace Negligence Lawyer
When you get injured on the job in Florida, you can file for workers’ compensation as long as you meet the basic eligibility requirements (i.e., you are an employee and you got injured within the scope of your employment). But, if your injuries are serious, your workers’ compensation benefits might not cover all of your injury-related losses. When this is the case, it is important to talk to a Fort Lauderdale or Miami workplace negligence lawyer about filing a third party claim.
What is a Third Party Claim?
Under Florida’s workers’ compensation law, covered employers are required to pay benefits to their employees on a “no fault” basis. This means that employers (or their insurance companies) are directly responsible for paying employees’ benefits, and they are obligated to pay without proof of negligence.
But, while employers must pay workers’ compensation benefits even when they aren’t responsible for their employees’ injuries, employers receive certain protections in exchange. In Florida, employers that comply with the state’s workers’ compensation law are “immune” from negligence-based lawsuits filed by their employees. This means that employers are only responsible for paying workers’ compensation benefits in most cases.
Unfortunately, this often limits the amount that employees can recover. For example, let’s say you were injured when a coworker ran over your foot. Since employers are generally liable for their employees’ negligence, your employer would be fully responsible for your losses if Florida’s workers’ compensation law didn’t apply. But, if it does apply—which is most likely the case—then you can only seek medical and disability benefits for your injury.
The outcome would be different if you had a third party claim.
Instead of a coworker, let’s say you were injured by a subcontractor. Since you were injured on the job, you are still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through your employer. But, since a third party (i.e., the subcontractor) caused your injury, workers’ compensation immunity does not apply. As a result, you can file a third party claim against the subcontractor—and you can use this claim to seek full compensation for your injury-related losses.
Common Third Party Claims Involving Workplace Negligence
Injured employees in Florida can file third party claims in a variety of circumstances. While this includes accidents involving other individuals like our example above, it also includes many accidents in which no one else is involved. Examples of third parties that can be held liable for workplace injuries include:
- Building Cleaning and Maintenance Companies – Many employers hire third-party cleaning and maintenance companies to take care of their buildings. If you were injured in a slip, trip or fall caused by a slippery floor or hazardous property condition, your employer’s cleaning or maintenance company could be liable.
- Contractors and Subcontractors – Construction sites and other job sites will often have employees of multiple contractors and subcontractors present at the same time. If you were injured by an employee of one of these companies, you may have a third party claim for workplace negligence.
- Product Manufacturers – Tool and equipment defects are common causes of workplace injuries. If you were injured when a tool, piece of equipment or other product malfunctioned, you may have a third party claim against the manufacturer.
- Property Owners – While some employers own their facilities, others rent their facilities from third parties. If you were injured in a premises-related accident at a rented office, warehouse or other facility, a Fort Lauderdale workplace negligence lawyer may be able to help you file a third party claim against the property owner.
Claims against these (and other) third parties can involve all types of accidents and accident-related injuries. For example, if you were injured in any of the following types of accidents, a Miami workplace negligence lawyer at The Gallagher Law Group, P.A. may be able to help you file a third party claim:
- Slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident
- Fall from a roof, ladder or scaffolding
- Elevator or escalator malfunction
- Power tool or hand tool malfunction
- Forklift or other heavy equipment accident
- Industrial machinery accident
- Construction defect or building collapse
- Electrocution on the job
- Vehicle collision (either vehicle-on-vehicle or vehicle-on-pedestrian)
- Vessel collision or other harbor or maritime accident
Financial Compensation Available in Third Party Claims
As we mentioned above, when you have a third party claim as the result of a workplace accident, you can seek full compensation for all of your injury-related losses. This is significant—because workers’ compensation only covers a portion of the cost of coping with a serious job-related injury. When you hire a Fort Lauderdale workplace negligence lawyer to file a third party claim on your behalf, your lawyer will be able to seek just compensation for your:
- Medical expenses (including medical expenses that may not be covered under workers’ compensation)
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
- Full loss of income and benefits
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium, companionship and enjoyment of life
Crucially, this includes just compensation for your costs to date and for the costs you will incur in the months or years ahead. In negligence-based claims under Florida law, accident victims are entitled to recover damages for all of their current and future losses. To ensure that you are seeking full compensation, you will need to work with an experienced Fort Lauderdale or Miami workplace negligence lawyer who can accurately calculate the long-term financial and non-financial damages you deserve.
5 Key Differences Between Workers’ Compensation and Third Party Claims
There are several important differences between workers’ compensation and third party claims; and, if you have a third party claim, it is extremely important that you hire a lawyer to pursue this claim on your behalf. To explain why, here are five key differences between filing for workers’ compensation benefits and seeking damages through a third party claim:
1. Partial Wage Replacement vs. Full Wage Replacement
Under Florida’s workers’ compensation law, eligible employees can receive partial wage replacement (usually two-thirds of their weekly wage) if they miss more than seven days from work. When injured employees have third party claims, they can seek full compensation for their loss of income and benefits no matter how long their injuries prevent them from working.
2. No Non-Financial Losses vs. All Non-Financial Losses
In Florida (as in other states), workers’ compensation only covers eligible employees’ medical expenses and lost wages. It does not cover employees’ pain and suffering, emotional distress, or other non-financial losses. However, when injured workers have third party claims in Florida, they can seek full compensation for these losses. With third party claims, the compensation employees receive for their non-financial losses will exceed the compensation they receive for their financial losses in many cases.
3. “No Fault” Benefits vs. Negligence-Based Compensation
As we discussed above, workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system in Florida. This means that employees can file claims with their employers even if their employers are not responsible for their injuries.
However, third party claims require proof of negligence (or, in limited circumstances, strict liability). While workplace negligence can take many different forms, proving negligence is not easy. It requires a prompt and comprehensive investigation, and it requires the skills of an experienced Fort Lauderdale workplace negligence lawyer.
4. Workers’ Compensation Insurance vs. Liability Insurance
While workers’ compensation claims and third party claims both usually go through the insurance companies, workers’ compensation insurance and liability insurance claims are very different. There are different processes and different considerations involved, and injured workers must present different documentation to establish their legal rights.
5. Prescribed Benefit Rates vs. Calculating Financial and Non-Financial Losses
Finally, calculating workers’ compensation benefits is usually a fairly straightforward process. Florida has prescribed rates for wage replacement benefits. However, in third party claims, injured employees must work closely with their lawyers to calculate the compensation they deserve. As we discussed above, this includes compensation for their financial and non-financial losses—both now and in the future.
At The Gallagher Law Group, P.A., we handle workers’ compensation claims and third-party claims on behalf of injured employees in South Florida. If you have been injured on the job, we can provide a comprehensive assessment of your legal rights, and we can fight to recover full compensation on your behalf. Whether you have a workers’ compensation claim, a third-party claim or both, you can rest assured that we will do everything we can to win the compensation you deserve.
Talk to a Miami or Fort Lauderdale Workplace Negligence Lawyer for Free
If you have been injured on the job in South Florida and would like more information about filing a third-party claim for your injuries, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. We will arrange for you to speak with a workplace negligence lawyer in Miami or Fort Lauderdale as soon as possible. To find out how much you may be entitled to recover for your workplace injury, please call 954-530-7314 or tell us what happened online today.