WORKERS COMPENSATION: THIRD PARTY ACTION
As a general rule, as we have stated previously, if there is a possibility of bringing a lawsuit against some party OTHER THAN one’s employer or co-worker (“THIRD PARTY ACTION”), for a injury sustained on the job, the recovery will almost always be greater than the worker’s compensation award that may be given, if both remedies are available. Without explaining the technicalities of liens that arise, we can summarize by saying that the injured party will usually have the luxury of keeping the greater of the two amounts. Often, there is no third party available to sue. Sometimes, there may not be Workers Compensation available to a worker, though he may think there should be. It can be a close call.
Example: A worker is on his way to a job site in his automobile and crashes with another vehicle. It is the other vehicle’s fault. The worker is very seriously injured. The other auto has only the minimum insurance coverage which is not nearly enough to fairly compensate the injured worker. Workers Compensation now becomes extremely important since the worker may be disabled for his entire life.
In New Jersey recently, it was decided that a worker, on a coffee break, WAS entitled to Workers Compensation.** The yardstick?: Was the activity of the worker at the time he was injured “within the course of his employment?”
In this case, even though the worker chose to drive five miles away from the work location for the coffee break, it was found that the diversion was caused by the worker having to wait for another person he was to meet, and the coffee break was a reasonable thing to do in the meantime. The result: the worker can get Workers Compensation for his severe injuries and will be covered for a lifetime disability. If it had been decided that the coffee break was NOT “within the course of his employment,” all the worker would have to look forward to was the small amount available under a limited automobile insurance policy…
Any time a “third party” may be involved in a work injury, it is absolutely essential that an experienced Personal Injury Attorney, in addition to a Workers Compensation Attorney, be consulted…A worker does himself a terrible injustice, and may subject himself to grievous financial damage, if he fails to heed this advice.