Workers' Compensation: Third Party Claims

While each state has enacted its own workers’ compensation laws, we can confidently say that South Carolina’s laws tend to favor the injured worker. In Texas for example, private employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance; it’s optional. But that’s not the case here in South Carolina.

In South Carolina, almost all workers are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, meaning, coverage isn’t “optional” for private employers.

There are limited exceptions where certain workers are not covered, and these include: casual workers, employees who work for very small businesses (less than four employees), agricultural workers, real estate agents, railroad workers, and federal employees who work in South Carolina. Everyone else should be covered by workers' compensation.

Workers’ compensation does not pay 100% of an employee’s wages. Instead, workers’ comp pays 66 2/3% of the employee’s average weekly wage, but that amount is limited to 100% of South Carolina’s average weekly wage, which is established annually by the South Carolina Employment Security Commission.

An injured worker cannot receive workers’ compensation indefinitely; the maximum award allowed for total disability or death is limited to 500 weeks of compensation. Understandably, this may not be enough for certain workers suffering with a serious work-related injury or an occupational disease.

What if you were injured in a work-related accident, can you seek compensation from other sources, in addition to workers’ compensation? Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to obtain additional compensation through a “third party claim.”

What is a third party claim?

Simply put, you file a third party claim when you file a separate personal injury lawsuit against someone other than your employer who is legally liable for your injuries.

Still, it helps to file a workers’ compensation claim as well because injured workers receive immediate medical care and some compensation without having to wait for their personal injury settlement.

Who can be liable for a worker’s injuries? Sometimes the liable party can be a manufacturer of defective equipment, a subcontractor, a driver, or a property owner.

For example, if a construction worker is injured while working on a home, he may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim and he may be able to file a claim against the homeowner’s property insurance policy. Or, if he was injured by a subcontractor, he may be able to sue the subcontractor.

If a delivery driver is injured in a car accident, the driver may be able to collect workers’ compensation and he may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy.

If a female clerk is assaulted while working at a mini-mart, she may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim and she may be able to file a claim against the store’s property insurance policy.

Each of these examples are considered third party claims, which can be quite valuable because they provide the injured worker with much-needed compensation. Since workers’ compensation pays less than a worker’s regular wages, you can see why third party claims are as helpful as they are.

To find out if you have a third party claim, contact our Columbia personal injury law firm for a free case evaluation. We practice workers’ comp and personal injury law!

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