If I was hurt because of a defective forklift, can I file a “third-party claim?”
Even though you cannot sue your employer if suffer an injury that entitles you to workers’ compensation benefits, you may be able to sue any “third party” who caused the harm. This would appear to be an example of a case where a “third-party claim” may be warranted.
If your injury was caused by a defect in the forklift, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the equipment.
Other common “third-party claims” involve automobile accidents or accidents at construction sites that are caused by negligent site owners and supervisors or negligent subcontractors. In some cases, you may be injured at work because of the negligence of a vendor hired by your employer such as a security service or cleaning company.
Keep in mind: Your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier may also have a lien in this matter. The amount of the carrier’s lien is limited to medical treatment and disability benefits that they have provided for you by way of your workers’ compensation claim. In order to resolve the third-party action, you will need to address this lien. It may be possible to have the lien waived by the carrier or extinguished by a court.
An attorney can help you to pursue a “third-party claim” and carefully handle all lien issues.
See our page on Third-Party Liability Claims to learn more about these types of cases.