Can a Third Party Be Held Liable for a Workplace Injury in Ohio?
Ohio’s workers’ compensation system exists to provide benefits to employees who get hurt on the job. In exchange for these benefits, employees give up the right to file negligence lawsuits against employers. While you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer for an intentional tort, negligence claims are prohibited.
In some situations, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against a third party whose actions contributed to your injury. For example, there are often various contractors on a construction site. If someone under another contractor’s supervision caused your accident; it may be possible to sue that contractor.
If you think a third party that is not your employer may be at fault for your Ohio work injury, contact Friedman, Domiano and Smith’s Cleveland work injury lawyers. We may be able to help you pursue compensation, and there are no upfront costs to pay. The attorneys at our firm are experienced and have extensive knowledge of your legal rights after a work accident.
Call Friedman, Domiano and Smith today. No upfront fees: 216-621-0070.
Third Parties That Could Be Liable For a Work Injury
While you cannot sue your employer for negligence, there are numerous examples of third parties that could be held liable for the injury, including:
- Product manufacturers – This could include the manufacturer of a construction vehicle, power tools, or machine in a factory. Manufacturers of toxic substances could also be held liable for a work injury.
- Drivers who caused a crash through their negligent actions – There may be a case if you were injured in this type of situation while you were returning from the hardware store after picking up supplies for a construction job.
- Property owners/landlords – Their negligence may have contributed to a dangerous condition at your workplace that caused you to get injured. If your employer does not own the property, the property owner may have been responsible for the safety of the property. For example, failing to address a slip-and-fall hazard could expose a property owner or landlord to liability.
- An outside vendor or contractor – They may have been doing work on your job site. Someone employed by the contractor could injure you, such as in a collision with a construction vehicle.
- Dog owner – If you were attacked by a dog while working, the owner may bear fault for your damages.
- Coworker who assaulted you – If the assault led to your workplace accident, you may have a claim against the coworker. For example, maybe the assault caused you to fall or slam into something and this caused your injury.
- Suppliers of equipment used at your worksite – They could be held liable for providing faulty or defective equipment. Equipment could include things like construction materials, tools and safety equipment.
- Companies responsible for servicing equipment you use – They may have failed to service equipment or failed to fix a problem with the equipment. For example, a piece of machinery may have overheated, causing a fire or becoming so hot that it burned you. Defective equipment could also result in workers getting pinned between pieces of machinery or a piece of machinery and the wall or the floor.
When Might Third-Party Liability Be Limited in Ohio?
It is important to note that sometimes third parties may have immunity from liability for workplace injuries. For example, contractors on a construction project might be immune to liability for injuries to workers on that site. This may apply even if you are employed by a different contractor than the one whose employee caused your injury.
Differences Between Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Claims
There are some important differences between a third-party claim, which is a personal injury case, and a workers’ compensation claim:
Third-Party Claims Take Longer
It could take several months or even longer to obtain compensation from a third-party claim. After filing a claim with the liable insurance company, it often takes months of negotiations to obtain a settlement. If the insurance company does not offer a favorable settlement, your lawyer may need to file a lawsuit to pursue the compensation you are seeking. This could make the process take even longer.
Another significant difference between a third-party injury claim and workers’ compensation claim has to do with fault. In a third-party claim, your lawyer must prove another party is at fault for your injury. In a workers’ compensation claim, fault does not matter. If you suffer an injury in the regular course of doing your job, it is likely covered, and you should receive benefits.
Types of Damages
In a workers’ compensation case, you can obtain compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. If your loved one died in a workplace accident you can seek death benefits. These are the types of benefits most claimants receive. There are also benefits for:
- Change of occupation
- Violation of a specific safety requirement if your employer violated a safety requirement
- Facial disfigurement
- Living maintenance
- Living maintenance wage loss
- Loss of limbs
- Permanent partial disability
- Permanent disability
- Total disability
- Temporary total disability
In a personal injury case, there is a wider array of damages victims can seek, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages, although these are rarely awarded
- Lost companionship
- Lost earning capacity
- Permanent physical deformity
Will a Third-Party Lawsuit Affect My Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
You can file a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party claim. These are separate claims and filing one does not affect your ability to file another.
However, injured workers cannot collect the same type of compensation twice. In other words, if you already received compensation for medical expenses from the workers’ compensation system, you cannot also recover those costs in your third-party case.
If you obtain the same type of compensation from your personal injury claim, the workers’ compensation system will need to be paid back what it already paid you in benefits. However, the amount you are required to pay back may be negotiable. That is why it is vital to have an experienced attorney managing your case.
Proving a Third-Party Claim
Your lawyer must prove negligence occurred and this directly led to your injuries. This is the only way a third party could be held liable for your damages.
Negligence refers to the breach of a duty of care one party owes to another. For example, drivers owe you a duty of care to take reasonable steps to help prevent a crash. Property owners have certain obligations to people who are on their property. Product manufacturers have a duty to avoid producing dangerous equipment. When third parties do not fulfill their legal obligations and an injury occurs, they may bear liability for any damages.
Another way to think about liability is a failure to take the actions that a reasonable person would have taken in a similar situation. For example, if there was an obvious problem with a piece of equipment and that problem affected the safe operation of the equipment, the party responsible for servicing it should have fixed it.
Why You Need an Experienced Attorney to Help You Seek Compensation
There are many reasons why it is important to hire an experienced lawyer who has worked on workers’ compensation and third-party claims as you seek compensation for your workplace injury:
- An attorney who only handles workers’ compensation claims may not have much experience with third-party cases and vice versa.
- Proving a third-party case takes experience, resources and knowledge of how to gather evidence. At Friedman, Domiano and Smith we have been representing the injured for decades, securing compensation for countless victims.
- An experienced attorney knows how to negotiate to pursue maximum compensation. If your third-party claim includes the same types of damages as your workers’ compensation claim, an experienced lawyer should understand the subrogation issues that may arise.
- Hiring a lawyer allows you to focus much less on the legal process. Instead, you can focus on the other aspects of your life that have been disrupted by your injury. You can also focus on your medical treatment and recovery.
There are many other benefits to working with an experienced lawyer from our firm.
Contact Friedman, Domiano and Smith After a Third-Party Work Injury
Were you injured at work?
You are going to need compensation for medical costs, lost wages and other damages. However, the legal process can be confusing and overwhelming for injured victims.
Friedman, Domiano and Smith’s experienced lawyers are here to manage each step of the process on your behalf. Call us today to learn if you may have a case and find out how we may be able to help you.
Millions Recovered. No Upfront Fees or Legal Costs. Call 216-621-0070.
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