What workers in Texas should know about third-party liability claims

When workers are injured due to the actions of parties other than their employers, they may be able to file personal injury claims against those parties.

Many of the workplace accidents that occur in El Paso can unfortunately be attributed to the actions of either employees or employers. However, in some cases, workers may suffer on-the-job injuries due to the actions of other parties. In these situations, workers may be eligible to directly seek compensation from the people or companies responsible for their injuries. It's crucial for workers in this position to understand the following things about these third-party liability claims.

How do they differ from workers' compensation claims?

A third-party liability claim is a personal injury lawsuit that is filed against a party other than a worker's employer. Workers might be eligible to make these claims if any of the following things caused their injuries:

  • A person who acted without proper regard for the safety of others
  • A product that was designed dangerously, produced with defects or sold without adequate instructions and warnings
  • A reasonably foreseeable, preventable hazard that existed on another person's property

Workers who make these claims can seek compensation for direct expenses, such as medical bills and lost income. They also might be able to recover non-economic damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering, that would not be available through the workers' compensation system.

What if workers already sought workers' compensation?

Under the Texas Code, injured employees have the right to make third-party liability claims and also pursue workers' compensation benefits. However, if the third-party liability claim succeeds, the proceeds must be used to reimburse the workers' compensation insurer for any compensation that it already disbursed. The remaining damages from the third-party liability claim then belong to the injured worker.

What are the deadlines for third-party claims?

Typically, workers in Texas must make personal injury claims within two years of the date that the injury occurred. However, this deadline is extended for claims that involve asbestos- or silica-related injuries. This statute of limitations is significantly longer than the one observed for worker's compensation claims. In these cases, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, workers only have 30 days to file injury reports and one year to submit formal workers' compensation claims.

What should workers do after a third-party accident?

If workers believe that an accident may provide grounds for a third-party liability claim, they may benefit from consulting with an attorney who has experience in both workers' compensation and personal injury law. An attorney may be able to offer advice on reporting the injury properly and assessing who was at fault. An attorney also may be able to help a person pursue the full amount of compensation that might be available from either an insurer or a third party.