What is a Third Party Lawsuit in Virginia?
Imagine you’re a construction worker who stops by the office in Norfolk to pick up a ladder and supplies for a job site in downtown Richmond. Traffic on Interstate 64 is heavy near the Newport News – Williamsburg line and at a stand still. You’re minding your own business when suddenly a truck crashes into you. The driver was texting and didn’t see that traffic was stopped.
An ambulance takes you to the local hospital where an MRI shows that you have a herniated disc. Because of your back pain and the medication, you’re unable to drive, lift, or bend. You even have problems walking more than a block or two and sitting to watch your favorite tv show. Your orthopedic surgeon says that a lumbar fusion is your only chance to get better.
Pain isn’t your only problem. You’re also stressed over your increasing medical bills and worried about how you’re going to provide food, clothes, and shelter for your family. You may be out of work for a long time.
Because you were injured in the course of your employment, you can file a workers compensation claim in Virginia. Workers compensation may give you lifetime medical benefits, temporary total disability payments while you’re out of work, and permanent disability compensation for loss of use of injured body parts.
But workers compensation provides limited remedies. And what about the driver whose negligence caused your injuries? What happens to him? In Virginia you may pursue workers compensation benefits while also filing a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver in circuit court. This is called filing a third party lawsuit.
Third Party Negligence in Virginia
Virginia allows you to file a third party claim when you’re hurt in a work accident that is caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional action. You can file a claim against the third party’s insurance policy or you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent individual or company in civil court. Usually you do not file suit in civil court unless the statute of limitations is about to run or the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement for your damages.
If the negligence of another party caused your personal injuries then you can use the third party personal injury claim to pursue damages that include your medical costs, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and permanent disability and disfigurement. By pursing a third party claim for personal injuries in addition to your workers comp claim you have a better chance of receiving adequate compensation for your injuries and more money to make you whole after being in an accident that was not your fault.
When a third party is responsible for your accident and injuries, your employer may seek reimbursement and compensation from the third party to recover the value of the workers compensation benefits paid to you. By filing a third party lawsuit you can maintain control over your case.
Establishing that the Third Party is Liable for Your Accident and Injuries
Workers compensation is a no fault system. This means that you can receive workers compensation benefits without proving that your employer was negligent. What’s important is that you prove that you suffered an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of your employment.
In a third party personal injury claim, however, you must prove that the third party’s negligence caused your damages. As a general rule you must show that:
- There was an accident
- The other person owed you a duty of care
- The other person violated that duty of care
- You had actual injuries
- The accident caused your injuries
This is a fancy way of saying that you must prove that the third party’s negligent action or omission caused your injuries.
Common Third Party Accidents in Virginia
There are numerous situations where a person’s work-related accident may lead to a third party accident claim in Virginia. Here are some of the more common ones:
- Car Accident: Many of us have jobs that require us to drive. If you’re hurt in a crash while driving for your job, you may have a personal injury claim as well as a workers compensation claim.
- Construction Site Accidents and Injuries: Construction sites are filled with different employers from different companies all working around heavy machinery, dangerous tools, and difficult environmental conditions. If you’re an electrician it’s possible that someone driving a forklift may strike you, causing an injury. You may have a third-party personal injury claim against the site owner, the forklift driver, and the forklift driver’s employer. We represent many union members who are hurt on construction sites, as well as non-union members.
- Slip and Fall Accidents: If you were injured on someone else’s premises while performing a work-related task, such as slipping on ice on a sidewalk, you may have a third party personal injury claim against the sidewalk owner.
How Our Lawyer Can Help You
If you’ve been hurt in a work accident caused by someone else, an experienced work accident attorney and personal injury lawyer can help you maximize the amount of money you receive for your damages. Call Virginia workers compensation lawyer and Richmond injury attorney Corey Pollard for a free valuation today. We can help you coordinate a civil action with your work injury claim.