Work can be a hazardous place. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5071 fatal work related injuries in 2008. Non-fatal injuries occur at a rate at about 4% of the workforce. In other words, 4 of every 100 workers will suffer a work related injury. In 2008, there were an additional 3.7 million non-fatal work related injuries.
Most work related injures will fall strictly under workers compensation laws. These laws basically limit the injured employees recovery to recovery under state workers compensation statutes. In cases of serious injuries or wrongful death, the workers compensation recovery is many times grossly inadequate to fully compensate the injured worker for his or her injuries and damages.
Unfortunately, the workers compensation limits are strict in nature unless the accident resulted from highly reckless conduct on the part of the employer. The standard is extremely low for employers under the workers compensation acts so that behavior has to be outrageous in nature with almost certain injuries to the worker resulting from the behavior. The workers compensation laws were written to protect the employer from catastrophic lawsuits. The result has been that workers have bore the costs of negligent employers.
Due to the protections afforded employers by workers compensation laws, it is rare that an injured employee will have a claim directly against his or her employer beyond the limits of the workers compensation laws. However, many work related injuries result from the negligence of third parties other than the employer. These claims have no limits and are treated just like any other personal injury claim.
Third party personal injury lawsuits for work related injuries can arise in a wide variety of cases. A high percentage of work related injuries occur in the construction, agricultural, mining, manufacturing and transportation industries. Each of these industries involve a multitude of other parties on the job site. In the case of transportation, workers driving either in the transportation industry or in conjunction with their jobs in other industries face all the same driving risks as any other driver. In these cases, the lawsuit is treated just like a simple auto accident lawsuit or trucking accident lawsuit. In other situations, there may be defective third party equipment, supplies or products. There may also be negligent contractors, sub-contractors or their employees.
If your work injuries resulted from the negligence of a third party, then you will have a personal injury claims against those third parties for your injuries and damages. As such, it is very important that you determine the cause and source of your injuries. Many workers injured on the job assume they have no recourse but workers compensation where in fact a closer look at the facts surrounding their injuries reveals the liability of third parties.
Failure to properly identify the parties responsible for your injuries can be very costly, and limit you to the very low recovery limits set by workers compensation laws.