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What is Third-Party Liability in a Work Accident?

Posted on April 21, 2022

When most people sustain on-the-job injuries, they are able to recover money for their medical bills and lost wages through the workers’ compensation system in Illinois. However, there are times when another party, aside from the employer or a co-worker, is responsible for the injury. In these situations, it may be possible to file a third-party liability lawsuit against the at-fault party. Here, we want to discuss third-party lawsuits in the context of work injury claims as well as what you can expect if this is the route that you and your attorney decide to take.

Why Third-Party Claims are Uncommon for Workplace Injuries

In the state of Illinois, the workers’ compensation system is robust. Any work injury victim should be able to receive compensation for their medical bills, a significant portion of lost income, and disability benefits depending on the severity of the injury.

Workers’ compensation in this state is considered a “no-fault” type of insurance. This means that the injured worker will receive compensation for any workplace injury or illness regardless of who caused the injury or illness (even if they caused it themselves). 

There are certainly benefits to this type of no-fault system, including the fact that the injured worker does not have to prove that the employer or another person caused their injury. They will just receive the compensation automatically if they file their claim after an injury occurs. That does not mean the system is perfect, and there are certainly times when claims are denied, but the system does generally work.

Part of the “rules” of this workers’ compensation system is that it is generally not possible for a person to file a lawsuit against their employer to recover compensation.

What Will a Third-Party Claim Get You?

There are certainly times when it may be necessary to file a third-party lawsuit in order to recover compensation after a workplace injury or illness occurs. Typically, this is only possible if someone other than the employer or a co-worker caused the injury. This can include contractors or subcontractors present at the job site if their actions cause an injury, as well as companies or manufacturers if injuries arise due to a defective product.

Individuals who file a third-party lawsuit in civil court will not automatically receive compensation in the way they would with a workers’ compensation claim. Rather, they will have to prove that the actions of the other party were negligent. This involves gathering various types of evidence, showing that a breach of duty occurred, and proving damages.

If a third-party work injury claim is successful, the injured individual will be entitled to compensation for their medical expenses, full coverage of their lost wages, and even pain and suffering damages, something that is not typically available through a work injury claim.

Call a Work Injury Lawyer in Illinois Immediately

If you or somebody you care about has sustained a workplace injury in Illinois, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A Chicago work injury lawyer can examine every aspect of your case and work to gather the evidence needed to prove what happened. If it is necessary to file a third-party liability lawsuit in your work injury case, you need an attorney ready to navigate the civil court system.