When Paul suffered a crushing injury to his hand while pouring cement at work, he thought his company’s workers’ compensation insurance would take care him. He was, after all, injured on the job. But after several surgeries, months of time off work, and the realization that his hand would never be 100%, Paul began to understand that the paltry benefits he was receiving from workers’ compensation wouldn’t come close to compensating him for such a major loss. He felt he was entitled to more.
Most people are aware that California’s worker’s compensation laws provide compensation to injured employees regardless of whether the employee or his employer was at fault. Under this “no fault” system, the employee cannot file suit against the employer, even if the employer’s negligence caused the injury. Yet what many people (including many attorneys) don’t realize is the potential to file civil suit and recover compensation against a “third party” who causes injury, even when the employee is injured “on the job.”
When Paul called our office seeking consultation and explained how his injury occurred, it was discovered that his hand was crushed when the driver of a cement truck, who worked for a different company, failed to lock the cement chute which swung wayward and struck Paul’s hand. Through the filing of litigation in the Superior Court of California, Paul brought suit against the third-party cement company and its employee, and a major settlement was obtained – a settlement in addition to the compensation Paul received from his employer’s workers’ compensation provider.
If you or someone you know is injured on the job, it is important to ask the following three questions:
- Was the injury caused by someone not employed by the injured person’s employer?
- Was the injury caused by conditions created by a company different than the injured person’s employer? or
- Was the injury caused by a malfunction or defect of a piece of equipment or product?
If the answer to any of the preceding questions is “yes,” then the injured person may have a claim for compensation in addition to a claim under the workers’ compensation system. Call Berman & Riedel, LLP for more information.