What is Third Party Liability (Work Injuries)?

Workers deserve safe conditions on the job. Unfortunately, work-related injuries and illnesses remain a serious issue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there were 64,900 workplace injuries and illnesses reported in North Carolina in 2020 alone. Injured workers have the right to file a no-fault workers’ comp claim. 

Beyond workers’ comp, an injured worker may also be able to hold any negligent party other than their own employer legally responsible for their accident through a fault-based third-party liability claim. In this article, our Raleigh workers’ compensation lawyer provides an in-depth guide to the most important things to know about third-party liability claims in North Carolina. 

Background: Workers’ Comp Insurer is an Exclusive Remedy Against One’s Employer

Under North Carolina (Workers’ Compensation Act), the overwhelming majority of employees in the state are entitled to no-fault workers’ comp insurance coverage. If you are injured on the job, you have a right to file for and receive workers’ comp benefits—regardless of whether or not your employer was responsible for your accident. 

However, in exchange for no-fault benefits, a workers’ comp claim is generally the only legal remedy that injured workers have against their own employer in North Carolina. In other words, injured workers are not permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. Even if your employer was negligent, you generally cannot sue them for your injuries. 

Injured Workers Can Always Bring a Personal Injury Claim Against a Negligent Third Party

Although you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against any other negligent party. If you were hurt while on the job due to the carelessness, recklessness, or other misconduct of any party other than your own employer, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against them to hold them liable for the full extent of your damages. This type of workplace accident case is called a third-party liability claim. 

Third-Party Liability Claims are Fault-Based Cases

It is important to emphasize that third-party liability claims are based on fault. Whereas a workers’ comp claim in North Carolina is a no-fault claim, a third-party liability lawsuit requires a finding of fault. To hold a third party legally liable for your work-related injuries, you must prove that: 

  1. The third party owed you a duty of care
  2. The third-party breached its duty of care 
  3. The breach of duty caused your injury/illness
  4. You sustained actual harm in the incident

You Can File a Workers’ Comp Claim and a Third Party Liability Lawsuit 

You have the right to file a third-party liability claim and a workers’ compensation claim. They are not “either/or” legal options in North Carolina. In fact, you should always file for workers’ comp benefits if you were hurt on the job in North Carolina. From there, an experienced Raleigh, NC work injury lawyer can help you determine whether or not you have a third-party liability case. 

Examples of Potential Defendants in a Third Party Liability Case 

A number of different parties could be held liable for a workplace accident through a third-party liability claim in North Carolina. Indeed, you can bring this type of legal action against any defendant other than your own employer. Some common examples of defendants in third-party liability lawsuits include: 

  • Contractors
  • Subcontractors
  • Property owners
  • Developers
  • Equipment manufacturers
  • Third-party motorists

An Overview of Compensation You Can Recover in a Third Party Liability Claim

Workers’ comp benefits include medical coverage, wage replacement, and in some, permanent disability benefits. A third-party liability claim allows some injured workers to recover additional financial compensation. In North Carolina, you can bring a third-party liability claim to seek compensation for the complete extent of your damages. Recovery may be available for: 

  • Current and future medical costs
  • Lost wages and loss of earning potential 
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement
  • Wrongful death of a family member

Contact Our Raleigh, NC Workplace Injury Attorney Today

At Green Mistretta Law, PLLC, our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers are skilled, experienced, and aggressive advocates for clients. If you have any specific questions or concerns about third-party liability claims, we are here to help. It is important to get the most from your workers’ compensation claim, and our team can help you do just that.

Contact us today to set up your no-cost, no-commitment initial consultation. From our law office in Wake Forest, we represent injured workers throughout the area, including in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, and Morrisville.