Can you sue a third party for a workplace injury?

July 14, 2021 | Crandall & Pera Law
Can you sue a third party for a workplace injury?

In Ohio, employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance to cover an employee who is injured while performing their job duties. There are limits on workers' compensation, however, and those limits may make it difficult for you to cover your expenses. Avoiding financial hardship may mean filing a lawsuit against a third party.

Workers' compensation

Under workers' compensation law, you are only eligible for compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and other costs directly related to your injury. You are not eligible to receive pain and suffering as part of a workers' compensation claim. In addition, Ohio law does not allow you to sue an employer for an injury incurred on the job. If your injury is catastrophic, that means you are unable to receive anything other than your actual costs, even if you need lifelong care. However, if you suffered a third-party workplace injury that was caused by someone other than your employer or a fellow employee, it is possible to file a lawsuit against that party to recover damages.

Requirements for a third-party lawsuit

First, you must prove that the third party owed you a duty of care and then breached that duty in some way. Because of that breach of duty, you were injured, and your injury resulted in permanent damage. For example, you were driving a forklift that malfunctioned and turned over, causing significant injury. Not only do you have a workers' compensation claim, but you may have a third-party claim against the forklift manufacturer.

What counts as a third party?

In order to claim a third-party workplace injury, it helps to know what may constitute a third party in your workplace. Some accidents that could result in a third-party claim include the following: • Auto accidents – You drive as part of your regular job duties, and you were involved in an accident caused by someone else's negligence. • Construction site accidents – Contractors are often used on construction sites, and it is possible their carelessness or negligence caused your injury. • Defective or malfunction product or machine – A machine, tool or product has a defect or malfunctions, causing injury. • Toxic substances – If you become ill or are injured by a chemical, you may have a claim against the manufacturer of the chemical. A workplace accident can be devastating. When the injury was caused by a third party, it is critical that you speak to an attorney to see what rights you may have to file a claim.