If you’ve been involved in an accident — whether it’s a car accident or a workplace accident — you may have heard the term “third party.” It can be used in different contexts depending on the situation.
Simply put, a third party is a party other than one of the two parties involved in a dispute. In a personal injury context, it could refer to a third-party insurance claim. Or, if you were hurt on the job, you could have grounds to sue a third party to recover compensation for your injuries.
What Is a Third-Party Claim?
A third-party claim is a claim filed against someone else’s insurance company. This may happen if you were seriously injured in a truck accident and qualify under Florida law to sue the trucking company. That’s a third-party claim.
You and the truck driver are the two parties involved in the accident. But the truck and driver are likely covered by the trucking company’s insurance provider. The insurance company wasn’t directly involved in the accident — they’re a third party.
That’s different than when you file an insurance claim against your own insurance company. For example, drivers in Florida are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP is no-fault coverage and is available to you regardless of who caused the accident. If you’re in a minor car crash, you’ll first file a claim against your PIP policy. That’s a first-party claim since it’s your own policy.
When Can I Get Compensation from a Third Party?
Another important scenario when you might pursue compensation from a third party is if you are injured at work. When you’re hurt on the job, you’re probably entitled to workers’ compensation. In some cases, that’s your exclusive remedy. In most cases, you can’t sue your employer if you were injured at work, even if your employer was negligent.
But, if a third party was negligent and caused you to get hurt at work, you might be able to file a lawsuit against that third party. This means that you could recover more money than is available through workers’ comp benefits.
Some possible third parties that could be held liable for a workplace accident include:
- Manufacturers of defective equipment
- Drivers of vehicles (in an offsite accident)
- Property owners
- General contractors
If someone other than your employer or a co-worker is responsible for your injuries, it’s possible you could have a third-party claim. It’s always wise to consult an experienced workplace accident lawyer for a case evaluation if you’ve suffered an accident on the job.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Third-Party Claim?
It’s always helpful to seek legal advice if you are going to be submitting any kind of insurance claim – third-party claims included. Insurance companies (even for your own policy) don’t pay out willingly. They often try to undervalue or outright deny claims. When you hire a personal injury attorney early in the process, they can help ensure that your claim is submitted correctly and contains information to support your request for damages.
A lawyer with experience in personal injury law will have substantial experience dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies routinely try to shift the blame to the victim. That can be detrimental to your claim.
In Florida, if you are partially responsible for your accident, your award will be reduced proportionally by your share of fault. If you were 20% at fault for the accident, your award will be reduced by 20%. A good attorney can help fight back against unfair blame so that you aren’t unfairly penalized by the insurance company’s tactics.
Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. So, you have nothing to lose by getting a free case evaluation so that you can understand the process and possibilities for your third-party claim.
What Compensation Can I Get From a Third-Party Claim?
This varies depending on the circumstances. In general, if your case qualifies to file a third-party claim, you’ll likely be able to seek compensation for all of your injuries. That typically includes both economic and non-economic damages (often referred to as pain and suffering).
You could be compensated for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Medical devices
- Physical therapy
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Anxiety and depression
- Loss of earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to your injuries
A reputable personal injury lawyer can help by calculating your damages to make sure all of your current and future expenses are covered in your claim.
How Much Is My Third-Party Claim Worth?
The value of any claim depends on the unique circumstances and details of that case.
Some common factors that affect the value of any claim include:
- The severity of your injuries
- The amount of time you missed from work
- Whether you’re expected to make a full recovery
- The limit of the insurance policy
- Whether you were partially at fault for the accident
Generally, claims involving catastrophic injuries or wrongful death have a higher value. But it’s important to note that the limit of any insurance policies involved could put a cap on the amount you could receive. Many accidents involve multiple parties. It’s not unusual to have more than one third-party claim.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.