How Do You Know if You Have a “Third Party Claim”?

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Third party claims are common, but most people are unaware that they have such a claim until they talk to an attorney.

To illustrate, a heavy equipment operator who belonged to the operating engineer’s union in New Jersey was our client. He came to us because he was unable to do his job at all, after an accident with a “barrier transfer machine.”

This machine (also known as a “road zipper”) is used for large roadway resurfacing projects to move highway barriers; to divert traffic away from the work site. A traffic nightmare, but necessary. The machine had been shipped in from California.

My client’s job as a mechanic was to tend to the machine. At one point he had to remove some temporary lighting fixtures that were used at night. In the process of trying to dismount from the machine, he caught his foot and fell backward.

So far, he definitely has a workers’ comp claim. But then after he began to have trouble with that claim he came to us to talk about it.

He Receives More than He Thought Possible

After he told us what had happened, we discovered that the machinery he was using had a defective design. That meant that the machine had a ladder on one side that was partially obstructed by a pole, where our client had tried to dismount and fallen.

Unbeknowst to him, the mechanic had a legal claim against the company that manufactured the defective machine. We were able to get additional recovery for the injured mechanic, who also was entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim for his medical treatment and permanency benefits.

He’ll Never Work Again as a Heavy Equipment Operator

The damages he recovered from the machinery company were completely justified because that company’s negligience had contributed to the injury our client suffered, which caused him to be unable to perform his job ever again. Had the machine been designed correctly the accident was unlikely to have occurred.

Our client was a skilled mechanic who, through no fault of his own, lost his livelihood because of this accident.

We emphasize on this blog that workers’ comp in New Jersey is a no-fault system, where nobody is being sued or held liable. But in a case like this, a third party, the manufacturer of the defective machinery, was responsible for the accident. Hence these claims are known as “third party claims.”

If you suspect that your accident or illness was caused by a defective product that your employer purchased or was using on a job site, it’s possible you may have a third party claim. Another possibility is that a subcontractor that your employer hired was negligent, in which case workers’ comp no-fault laws also do not apply. No-fault applies only to your direct employer.

Talk to us if you think you have a personal injury claim because you’ve been harmed by a third party. At Wilton Law, we will fight for you and are happy to give you a free consultation to see if we can help you with either your workers’ comp claim or a personal injury claim.

workers compensation claim guide