Workers Compensation: Third Party Liability
California Labor Code §3852 allows both the employee and the employer a “claim or right of action for all damages proximately resulting from the injury or death against any person other than the employer.”
Occasionally, workers’ compensation is not the exclusive remedy when an employee has been injured on the job. Workers’ Compensation is a “no fault” system, which means that it does not matter how you got hurt at work so long as you were hurt at work. A third party case is a case against a person other than the employer. If another person’s negligence was the cause of your injury while you were working, then you may also have a case against that party.
An example where an employee would have a workers’ compensation claim and also a third party claim against another is the following:
- An employee works for company X delivering bread to local bakeries. One day the employee is out on a delivery and while stopped at a red light his truck is rear-ended by a car driven by a party unrelated to company X. The employee suffers injuries as a result of the accident. He files a workers’ compensation claim with his employer, as he was acting within the scope of employment or on the job when he was rear-ended. He may also file a claim against the negligent third party driver.
Are The Claims Separate?:
In this example, the employee can bring both a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, as well as a civil lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle responsible for the accident. The workers’ compensation case and the “third party” case are separate. The workers’ compensation case, like all workers’ compensation cases, is heard before the workers’ compensation court called the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. The third party case is handled in civil court, just like every other car accident case. Sometimes the injured employee will have two different attorneys and sometimes one attorney will handle both cases.
Pursuing Both Claims:
The employer will have a right to claim a lien on your recovery from the third party if you pursue both the workers’ compensation case and the civil case. Therefore, it is important not to settle your personal injury case too early. Personal Injury attorneys are not always familiar with workers’ compensation law and workers’ compensation attorneys are not always familiar with personal injury law. Therefore, pursing both claims with two separate attorneys can be disadvantageous.
If you have been injured on the job by a third party, please contact our office to speak to our knowledgeable and skilled attorneys. Our attorneys are experienced in handling concurrent workers’ compensation cases and personal injury (third party) cases.
Please contact us today for a FREE 30-minute consultation. Our workers’ compensation attorneys are available to meet with you during business hours, evenings, and weekends. Allegiance Law is located in San Francisco, but we will be happy to drive and meet you. You may contact Allegiance Law, at (415) 404-6395. Or you may contact us by filling out the client inquiry form on this page.