Third Party Liability for Workplace Injuries
In Ohio, workers’ compensation law protects employers from being sued by employees who are injured at the workplace. In lieu of damages, injured parties are instead eligible to collect medical benefits and wage loss replacement regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against a Negligent Third Party
Although injured employees are not permitted to file a personal injury claim against their employers, they can file suit against another third party whose negligent or reckless conduct caused the workplace accident that caused the worker’s injury. For instance, if an employee were to slip and fall on a wet floor, he or she would be barred from filing suit against the employer, but could potentially collect damages if the fall resulted from a lack of warning on the part of a third party cleaning crew.
Third parties whose negligence most often lead to workplace injuries, include:
- Rental companies;
- Manufacturers and sellers of defective equipment;
- Project managers and site supervisors;
- Third party drivers;
- Contractors and vendors;
- The owner of the property where the employee was injured; and
- Non-employers who are tasked with maintaining company equipment.
Third party liability for workplace injuries arises most often in the construction industry, where multiple individuals and companies, including contractors, roofers, electricians, and construction workers all work independently on the same site. One of the most common accidents involving third party liability occurs when a worker sustains an injury after the scaffolding on which he or she was working, collapses. In these cases, injured workers are often able to collect damages from the company that negligently constructed the scaffolding.
Collecting compensation for construction-related injuries is often crucial to the recovery of injured parties because, while workers’ compensation covers past and future medical expenses, it does not fully compensate injured workers for the time they are required to take off from work in order to recover. Furthermore, workers’ compensation benefits are often capped after a certain amount of time. Personal injury lawsuits also give injured workers the opportunity to collect damages for emotional distress and pain and suffering.
Even when an employee is able to recover damages from a negligent third party, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is permitted to file a subrogation claim, in which it collects workers’ compensation funds that have already been distributed. However, subrogation is not always automatic, as employees can avoid being forced to give money back if they can demonstrate that the money received from the third party was not for expenses already paid for by workers’ compensation.
Call a Toledo Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have questions about your workers’ compensation claim and whether you have standing to file a personal injury suit against a third party, please contact one of the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC by calling 419-241-5500 today.