Do I Have A Third-Party Claim After my Work Accident in Massachusetts?
Work-related injuries often result in substantial medical bills and significant lost time at work. Missed wages coupled with medical expenses can lead to a financial crisis. Fortunately, workers’ compensation benefits are available to help alleviate some of the distress.
While workers’ compensation benefits are helpful, they rarely cover all the financial losses an injured worker incurs. To supplement the benefits provided under workers’ comp, an injured worker might have the ability to file a personal injury lawsuit against a liable third party.
Workers’ compensation laws bar lawsuits against your employer. However, this bar does not extend to negligent third parties. If you believe someone other than your employer should be held accountable for your injury, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan. Our Boston, MA personal injury lawyers are available for a free consultation. Contact (617) 925-6407 today.
Third-Party Claims vs. Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Massachusetts
Workers’ compensation benefits were designed to provide injured workers access to financial compensation if they were hurt on the job. By only having to demonstrate that they were injured in the course of their employment and not prove negligence, an injured worker can obtain much-needed financial assistance without the cost and unpredictability of litigation. However, as part of the bargain, workers are prohibited from filing a lawsuit against their employers. Employees give up this right for the promise of swift coverage of their medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages.
While this sounds great, workers’ compensation benefits typically only cover a percentage of the losses incurred by an injured worker. Additionally, most of these benefits are finite. Furthermore, workers’ compensation benefits make no allowances for the pain and suffering an employee endured. The only way to ensure you receive compensation for all your financial losses and emotional harm is through a third-party lawsuit.
Under the workers’ compensation law, you are not allowed to sue your employer. However, there are often other responsible entities that could be held liable. The immunity enjoyed by your employer does not protect these third parties.
Filing a lawsuit is not without its disadvantages. Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, you will be required to prove that your injury was the direct result of another party’s negligence. A successful case often hinges on the facts, available evidence, witness testimony, and the credibility of the parties involved. Additionally, a personal injury lawsuit could take months or even years to conclude. While your potential recovery could be significantly greater, you will have to wait much longer to receive it.
It is important to note that some workers’ compensation providers could be entitled to an offset if you are awarded a judgment or enter into a settlement with a third party. Our Somerville personal injury attorney will help you weigh the offset against the strength of your case and the potential damages you are likely to receive. In most cases, the available damages negate any adverse impact of an offset.
Types of Third-Party Claims in Massachusetts
So, if you are not permitted to sue your employer, who can you sue? What entity could be held liable for your injuries and losses depends on many different factors. Below we discuss some common scenarios when a third party could be held responsible for your damages.
Many people are required to drive for their job, such as truck drivers and salespersons who cover a large geographic district. Additionally, even people who are not required to travel regularly might attend an off-site meeting or conference away from their primary office. Any time you are driving, there is a risk of an accident. If you are hurt in a crash, you could have a third-party claim against a negligent driver in addition to a valid workers’ compensation claim.
Construction Site Injuries
A third-party claim could arise from any occupation. However, construction jobs not only offer a greater chance of injury, they also open up more third parties to liability than most other jobs. Many trade workers, including laborers, carpenters, welders, and electricians, are hired by subcontractors. Furthermore, the subcontractors are hired by general contractors, who could have been hired by the building owner. None of these people are your employer. Therefore, they are not protected by the immunity provided under the law. If you are injured because of the negligence or recklessness of a general contractor or someone employed by an entity other than your employer, they could be held liable for your damages.
Defective Product or Tools
Many people work with heavy and dangerous equipment. Because some of these products are inherently dangerous, a worker must exercise caution and common sense to avoid injuries. However, if a product malfunctions due to a design flaw or defect, an injured worker could have a products liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor.
Personal injury lawsuits against third parties are subject to Massachusetts’ statute of limitations. You do not have an indefinite amount of time to contact our Wakefield personal injury attorneys if you have been hurt in a work-related accident. More precisely, you have three years from the date of an injury to file a lawsuit. Nonetheless, you should still contact a lawyer as soon as possible to preserve important evidence.
Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyers Committed to Holding Negligent Third-Parties Liable for the Injuries They Cause
Workers’ compensation benefits are helpful, but they might not cover all your expenses. In some cases, an injured worker could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against a third party. Our Cambridge personal injury attorneys provide dedicated legal representation founded on years of experience. Claims based on work-related injuries are challenging. The Law Office of John J. Sheehan has the lawyers, staff, and resources to give your case the attention it deserves. Call (617) 925-6407 to schedule a free appointment.