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Vermont Workers’ Compensation Lawyer > Blog > Workers Compensation > What if I am Hurt by a Third Party at Work?

What if I am Hurt by a Third Party at Work?


In Vermont, when an employee suffers an injury while on the job, they can file a workers’ compensation claim and recover benefits. In Vermont, as in many other states in the United States, workers’ compensation is the primary recourse after an employee suffers a work-related injury. Generally, workers who suffer work-related injuries in Vermont are not allowed to sue their employer or a coworker if the employer has workers’ compensation insurance and the injury is covered under workers’ compensation. However, if a worker’s injury is caused by someone other than the employer or a coworker, the injured worker may file a third-party claim.

What Is a Third-Party Claim?

In the context of a work-related injury, a third-party claim is a legal claim that you file against another person or entity that is not your employer or a coworker that you deem responsible for causing or contributing to your work-related injury. Third-party claims for work-related injuries involve negligence claims. Negligence is a party’s failure to take reasonable care, resulting in injury or harm to another party. When someone fails to exercise the level of care a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances, they are considered negligent.

With a third-party claim, you must prove negligence or fault. This is different from workers’ compensation claims. The workers’ compensation system does not operate on a fault basis. With a workers’ compensation claim, you do not need to demonstrate negligence on the part of your employer or coworker. The workers’ compensation system only mandates that you prove you suffered your injury in the course of your employment. To prove negligence in a third-party claim, the following are the elements you are required to establish;

  • The third party owed you a duty of care: Duty of care is the obligation to exercise a reasonable level of care to prevent harm to others.
  • The third party breached the duty of care
  • The third party’s actions or inactions led to the injury or harm
  • You sustained damages due to the breach of duty by the third party

Examples of third parties who may be sued after a workplace injury include the following;

  • Drivers who cause vehicle accidents involving a worker who is driving as part of their job duties
  • Equipment manufacturers who manufacture defective equipment, tools, and machinery that cause injuries
  • A cleaning company that causes a slip-and-fall accident
  • A property owner who fails to keep their property safe, resulting in a worker suffering an injury

Damages Recoverable in a Third-Party Claim

When you file a third-party claim, you can recover compensation for all the damages you have suffered, including the following;

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish

A third-party claim can allow you to collect compensation for damages that exceed the limits of the workers’ compensation system. For instance, you can recover compensation for pain and suffering, which is not allowed under the workers’ compensation system.

Statute of Limitations for Third-Party Negligence Claims

It is crucial to note that there is a statute of limitations for filing third-party negligence claims. In Vermont, the statute of limitations for negligence claims is generally three years from the date of the injury or the date of discovery of the injury.

Contact Us for Legal Help

If you have suffered a work-related injury, contact a Vermont workers’ compensation attorney at Sluka Law PLC for legal guidance.

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