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Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld

Relentlessly Protecting California Workers' Rights Since 1956

The Role of Third-Party Liability in California Workers’ Compensation Cases

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At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our Santa Barbara workers’ compensation attorneys have protected the rights of California workers since 1956. This means we understand that not all workers’ compensation claims are straightforward. It is typically the opposite.

Workers’ compensation insurance companies will do all they can to avoid paying the benefits our clients are entitled to. This makes each case more complex than the next — especially when a third party is involved in the injury’s causation.

Here, we discuss how third-party liability can play a significant role in California workers’ compensation cases.

How Does Third-Party Liability Impact California Workers’ Compensation Claims?

In California, the workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. It is designed to pay benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses, regardless of fault. Benefits typically include medical treatment, temporary disability payments, permanent disability payments, and vocational rehabilitation, if necessary.

Third-party liability is when someone causes bodily harm to another person because of a negligent or reckless third party’s actions. In such cases, a third party, not the employer, may be partially or wholly responsible for an employee’s workplace injury.

This can include contractors, subcontractors, product manufacturers, property owners, and others whose actions or negligence contributed to the injury.

A third-party claim is a separate personal injury lawsuit that allows an injured worker to secure compensation for losses not covered through workers’ compensation. This can lead to legal action and additional avenues for compensation beyond the benefits provided through the workers’ compensation system.

Third-Party Liability May Require Filing Two Separate Claims in California

In third-party liability cases, the injured worker may be eligible to pursue two separate claims.

This may include:

  • Workers’ Compensation Claim

The injured worker can file a claim with their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier to receive medical treatment and wage replacement benefits.

  • Third-Party Lawsuit

Simultaneously, the injured worker can file a lawsuit against the third party responsible for their injury to seek additional compensation for damages like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other non-economic losses.

While California workers’ compensation benefits provide essential financial support, pursuing a third-party claim can potentially result in more significant compensation for injuries and damages. Coordination between the two claims is necessary, and legal representation is often advisable to navigate the complexities of these cases effectively. We can help.

Pursuing a third-party lawsuit alongside a workers’ compensation claim can be legally complex. In addition, California has specific time limits for filing a third-party lawsuit, which may differ from workers’ compensation deadlines. It is crucial to be aware of these deadlines and promptly consult with an attorney to access all compensation options without delay.

At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our Santa Barbara workers’ compensation attorneys have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California.

We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the best outcome for your combined workers’ compensation and third-party liability claim.

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