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Featured / 3.22.2024

How Does Third-Party Liability Work in Yuma Workers' Comp Claims?

Third-Party Liability in Workers’ Compensation Cases: What Yuma Residents Need to Know

Being injured on the job can mean that you’re out of work — and income — for weeks or months, which can significantly impact your finances. Workers’ compensation is designed to help mitigate some of this burden by providing compensation for Arizona workers in the form of reimbursement for medical bills and two-thirds of your gross monthly salary. However, it’s not always easy to prove that injuries happened while on the job, and the insurance companies may try to deny that the employer is liable. In cases involving potential third-party liability, this can get even more complicated.

The Process for Workers’ Compensation Claims in Arizona

While each workplace injury is different, the process for filing a workers’ compensation claim is generally the same. The first step is to report the accident and injury to the employer and get a workers’ compensation claim form. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to seek immediate medical attention. In this case, report the injury as soon as possible. Your employer may require that you see a specific medical care provider, even if you’ve already been evaluated by another practitioner. It’s important to follow the proper procedures to ensure that your claim is processed correctly and efficiently.

You will need to file your workers’ compensation claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona within one year of the accident or when you became symptomatic. You must also include the Workers’ and Physician’s Report of Injury in your claim. Once the claim has been filed and the employer and employer’s insurer notified, it can take a few weeks to find out whether the claim was accepted or denied. Working with a workers’ comp attorney can ensure you understand what’s going on and your responsibilities at each stage of the process.

Understanding Third-Party Liability

In most workers’ compensation cases, the employee is injured during the execution of their work duties during work time, and filing a claim is fairly straightforward. However, there are some situations where it’s possible that a third party was the reason the employee got injured. In this case, you may be able to file a third-party negligence claim.

A third-party negligence claim in relation to a workers’ compensation case is essentially a personal injury lawsuit against the third party. This means that what’s required to file for and win damages is the same as if you were injured in a car accident or slip and fall outside of work. First, you must show that the third party has a duty of care. Second, the duty of care must have been breached. The breach of duty must have directly caused your injury, and you must have suffered damage as a result.

Legal Considerations for Third-Party Workers’ Comp Claims

While filing a third-party lawsuit as part of a workers’ compensation claim can help you hold the responsible party liable and potentially get more in damages, it can make for a more difficult legal process. You will need to notify your employer and the insurance company that you are filing a third-party suit. The employer could then try to deny that the case falls under workers’ comp at all. If the third party is found liable, the insurance company may also attempt to get the money they paid out for the claim back from the third party in a process called subrogation.

Complexity of Proving Fault

Filing a third-party liability claim requires that you prove fault as outlined above. This is much harder than qualifying for a traditional workers’ comp claim because workers’ comp doesn’t require proving fault at all. If you were injured on the job, your claim should be approved. However, when you file a personal injury suit against a third party, you must meet the burden of proof in the civil courts, which is a preponderance of evidence. This means that you will need to convince a jury that the defendant was more likely to have been negligent in their actions than not.

Impact on Damages and Compensation Value

While pursuing a third-party liability case can be more difficult and require a more specific legal strategy, it can pay off in the end. How much someone may be able to get through a personal injury lawsuit is often more than what workers’ comp would have paid out. Filing a claim against a third party can help ensure that you receive all the money that you are entitled to for full reimbursement of the expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering related to your injury.

Third-party workers’ comp cases can be quite complex, and it’s always advised to seek help from a knowledgeable attorney before moving forward.

Benefits of Working With an Attorney

Working with a workers’ compensation attorney can ensure that you understand your rights when it comes to filing for workers’ comp and have an accurate understanding of what compensation you are eligible for. An attorney can also review your case and advise you if a third party may have contributed to your injuries. If so, they can help you file a claim in a timely manner within the statute of limitations, gather and present evidence, and potentially negotiate a settlement out of court. Navigating the court system while dealing with an injury is challenging, and it can help you have a dedicated representative who is looking out for your interests.

Call the team at Citrine Law at (928) 778-7968 to find out how we can help you determine whether third-party liability may be a factor in your workers’ compensation case.

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