Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Claims

In the state of New Hampshire, if you become injured while on the job, you cannot sue your employer, instead you will receive workers’ compensation benefits. Your workers’ compensation benefits typically represent the sole remedy for the damages sustained from an injury such as this; however, depending on your circumstances, you may have a third-party claim against another entity or individual.

What Circumstances May Result in a Workers’ Compensation Claim with an Additional Third-Party Claim?

Here are a few examples of instances where a workers’ compensation claim may also have an additional third-party claim.

A Car Crash

If the town florist’s delivery person is in the process of making a flower delivery and another vehicle slams into the back of the delivery van, causing the driver to suffer whiplash and a shoulder injury, he or she may have a third-party claim.

Although many states will automatically assign blame to the driver of the car that did the rear-ending, New Hampshire is not one of those. When it comes to rear-end car crashes in the state of New Hampshire, fault is determined based on the evidence.

Issues that could cause the leading driver to be considered at fault include:

  • Neglecting to have taillights on while driving at night.
  • Pulling out into traffic too fast and/or unexpectedly.
  • Changing lanes irresponsibly, such as by pulling directly into the path of another vehicle.

Since the delivery driver sustained the whiplash and shoulder injury while on the job, he or she will receive workers’ compensation benefits from the employer. In addition, if it is determined that the other driver is at fault, the delivery driver will be able to seek compensation via a third-party, personal injury claim for the damages that the other driver’s negligence caused.

Defective Machinery

A lab employee of a hospital is contracted out to take blood samples from patients in various nursing homes. While visiting one of these homes, the employee sustains a hip injury as she exits an elevator: Unknown to the employee, the elevator had stopped short, and opened the doors; therefore, when the lab employee went to step out of the elevator, there was no floor beneath her foot. She tumbled forward, falling out of the elevator and injuring her hip.

Since the employee was working for the hospital at the time she sustained the hip injury, she will receive workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, if there is evidence that the nursing home and/or the elevator company responsible for maintaining the elevator were negligent, she also has a third-party claim: She may have a third-party claim against both of these entities.

Potential negligence could be that the nursing home disregarded previous elevator malfunctions and just kept running the elevator instead of putting it out of service. The elevator maintenance company may have given the nursing home directions to temporarily ‘fix’ the problem until they arrive in a couple of days by just ‘resetting’ the elevator. Directing the maintenance person to power it down and then turn it back on.

A Fall

As an employee walks across his employer’s parking lot, he slips on a piece of ice, which causes him to fall abruptly forward, ultimately landing on his left knee. Since he sustained his knee injury while on the job and while walking in his employer’s parking lot, he will have a workers’ compensation claim.

In addition, if the employer has a separate entity take care of the parking lot during the winter months, as long as the employee can prove that the company caring for the parking lot was negligent, he can file a third-party claim against the parking lot maintenance company.

Injured Employees Must Explore the Potential of Third-Party Claims

It is essential that employees who sustain injuries at work explore the possibility of third-party claims, especially when you consider the few remedies that are available through workers’ compensation. In New Hampshire, injured employees who are unable to work receive lost wages at a rate that is equal to only 60 percent of their average weekly pay.  With a third-party claim, injured employees may be able to attain compensation for damages like the pain, suffering, and emotional distress that are not covered through their workers’ compensation benefits.

What if an Employee Successfully Receives Compensation from a Third Party After Collecting Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

In the event that an injured employee collects workers’ compensation benefits and then receives a settlement or wins a personal injury lawsuit (arising from the same incident), the workers’ compensation carrier that paid the employee’s benefits may be entitled to reimbursement for the amounts paid.

If you have sustained an injury while working, you should receive workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, depending on how you became injured, you may have a third-party claim. To determine if you have the ability to seek compensation from a third party, you need to meet with an attorney who has experience in workers’ compensation and third-party claims in New Hampshire.

Call, us today for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation. Let our experience work for you. 603-647-2600.

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