What is a Third Party Liability Work Injury Claim and Why is it Important?

Third Party Claims are Best Chance for Recovery in Work Related Personal Injury CaseInjured workers often face very significant hurdles in obtaining fair compensation for their injuries.  Under the New Mexico Workers Compensation Act’s exclusive remedy provisions, the worker’s recovery for injuries is limited to the remedies under the Act.

In cases involving serious personal injuries, these remedies are grossly inadequate to fairly compensate a worker for his or her injuries.

In short, under the exclusive remedy provisions of the Act, the worker cannot sue the employer for negligence in a personal injury lawsuit.  That is the case even if the employer is in fact negligent and that negligence is the sole cause of the worker’s injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death in a work related accident, seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer experienced in work related injuries.  Finding alternative means of compensation beyond Workers’ Compensation is absolutely essential for fair compensations.

Third Party Liability Claims for New Mexico Work Injuries

Third party liability allows for an employee to sue the third party, if that party was negligent.Although the worker is prevented from suing the employer for negligence, the worker is not barred from suing third parties for theirs.  These are referred to generally as third party liability claims.  This means that the worker can sue the third party for negligence even if the worker was injured on the job and on the employer’s premises.  Of course, this presumes that the third party was negligent and the negligence caused the injuries to the worker.

In case the negligence of a third party did in fact cause the worker’s injuries, the worker may proceed with a personal injury action against the third party.  The personal injury case would proceed like any other such claim notwithstanding the fact that it was a work related injury.  This means that the worker is entitled to recover all recoverable damages which are set forth in the New Mexico Uniform Jury Instructions.

As New Mexico is a comparative negligence state, the damages may be apportioned depending on who is responsible for the accident.Because New Mexico is a comparative negligence state, the third party would be liable only for that portion of the damages that the party caused.  On the other hand, because of the pittance allowed to injured workers under the Workers Compensation Act, this will still likely far exceed the allowable damages under the Act in cases of serious injury.  This is particularly true in cases of wrongful death where compensation for deceased workers and their families borders on offensive.

Because worker’s (or the surviving spouse and/or children) are so limited in recovery under the Workers Compensation Act, it is extremely important to try to identify third party liability.  In other words, were there other causes to the accident beyond the negligence of the employer.

Third Party Claims for Work Injuries are Fairly Common

In fact, third party liability comes up fairly often. In many cases, the injuries were solely caused by a third party.  For instance, many workers are injured on the job in automobile accidents.  The worker may proceed against the other driver just as would any other innocent driver.  The same rationale applies for workers injured on the premises of customers, contractors, associates and the like.

One area where third party claims are quite common are accidents on construction sites due to the sheer number of contractors and subcontractors and their employees.

In other cases, the worker may be injured on the employer’s premises or work site. Again, the fault may entirely lie with a third party.  A good example, though there are many others, is a construction site where contractors or subcontractors are negligently operating equipment causing injury to a worker.  Third party liability claims in construction accidents are very common due to the large number of different actors on a construction site.

As might be expected , there are also many cases where workers are injured due to the combined negligence of the employer and third parties.  This could occur with defective and poorly maintained equipment.  It might also occur where the employer has created unsafe working conditions with the third party’s negligence combining with those dangerous conditions to cause an injury.

In short, there are countless ways that third party liability might arise.  It is extremely important to determine if there is third party liability.  It is no exaggeration to say that third party liability may mean the difference between a full recovery for a worker’s injuries and financial ruin.