Understanding Third-Party Claims in Arizona
The Arizona workers’ compensation system provides critical benefits to injured or ill employees. One of the primary advantages of workers’ comp is that it covers all your reasonable medical expenses and replaces a portion of your missed wages regardless of who was at fault for the accident. But what about the rest of your lost income and other losses? Can you file a lawsuit against your employer?
Generally, the answer is no. In exchange for providing no-fault benefits to injured employees, businesses that carry workers’ compensation insurance cannot be sued for excess costs stemming from a job injury. But there’s a possible exception. A worker could be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit if someone other than the employer caused the injury. These are called third-party claims.
Understanding the difference between a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party claim is essential so that you identify all of your legal options after an accident. Contact the Arizona workers’ comp lawyers at Matt Fendon Law Group for the answers you need.
Since 2008, we’ve handled workers’ compensation claims and helped injured workers connect with top personal injury lawyers who can assist with their third-party claims. Learn your legal options by calling or contacting us for a free consultation.
When are Third-Party Claims Appropriate?
Third-party claims are an option if there is someone else (aside from the employer) whose negligence contributed to a worker’s injuries.
Imagine you’re a delivery driver. You’re on the way to make a drop-off when a drunk motorist hits you. It’s not your employer’s fault that the driver hit you. A third-party claim against the negligent driver could allow you to obtain compensation beyond what can be recovered in a workers’ comp claim, such as the remainder of your lost income and pain and suffering.
Fighting for Compensation From Negligent Third Parties
Unlike workers’ compensation claims, third-party claims require proof that another party was negligent and caused your injuries. You’ll need strong evidence to support your case, such as:
- Medical records
- Police accident reports
- Witness statements
- Photos from the accident scene
- Surveillance camera footage
If you can establish negligence in a third-party claim, you can hold the at-fault partially liable for your injuries. Compensation is possible for losses such as:
- Past, current, and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity, if your injuries impact your ability to work
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Lost enjoyment of life
This is a much broader range of compensation than is available through a workers’ compensation claim.
You should know that Arizona’s negligence laws may impact how much you can collect in a third-party claim. Whereas you can get workers’ comp benefits regardless of fault, in a personal injury claim the insurance company or court will look at whether you bear some responsibility for the accident.
The state’s comparative negligence laws address the issue of shared fault. When two or more parties are liable for someone’s injuries in an accident, each party is assigned a percentage of fault. That percentage will then reduce their financial award.
Let’s say you were eligible for $100,000 in compensation and assigned 30 percent of the fault. Your ultimate award would be reduced by your percentage of the blame, so the most you would be able to recover in compensation would be $70,000.
Types of Third-Party Claims
Many different types of work-related accidents could result in a third-party claim. Examples include:
- Slip-and-fall accidents: As a type of premises liability claim, a slip-and-fall accident may be the result of negligence by a landlord or facility manager, which may not be your employer. If this is the case, you may have a third-party claim against them.
- Motor vehicle accidents: If you were hurt while driving as part of your job, you might be able to file a third-party claim against the person who caused your injuries while also obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.
- Construction site accidents: Injuries at construction sites are pretty common. If you show you were injured due to the negligence of a third-party contractor, such as a subcontractor who used substandard scaffolding materials, you may be able to file a third-party claim against them.
- Defective tools or equipment: Defective equipment, faulty tools, unsecured products, and similar accidents can lead to serious injuries. If you can show your injuries result from a defective product, you may have a third-party claim against the manufacturer.
When to File a Third-Party Lawsuit in Addition to a Work Accident Claim
Knowing whether you have a third-party claim is not easy. It’s wise to consult with an experienced lawyer to learn what options exist beyond your workers’ compensation coverage. If you do have a third-party claim in addition to a workers’ comp claim, you could stand to recover significantly more money than you would get through workers’ compensation alone.
Get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. There’s a limited window of time to file for workers’ compensation benefits and personal injury compensation in Arizona, and the deadlines are different.
In Arizona, injury victims have just one year to file a workers’ compensation claim. For personal injury cases, claimants have two years. Hiring a lawyer in either case is vital to give you the best chance of maximizing the value of your claim(s).
Learn More About Third-Party Claims From Matt Fendon Law Group
There’s a lot of work required to prove a third-party claim, especially if you’ve just been through a major accident. Contact Matt Fendon Law Group today to learn your legal options. Our law firm provides compassionate support to injured workers and can put you in touch with personal injury lawyers dedicated to helping with third-party claims. Let’s work together to put you on the path to compensation. We have offices in Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, and Flagstaff. Call or contact us today for your free case review.