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Workers' Compensation vs. Third Party Claims in California


How Do Workers’ Compensation Claims Work? 

If you have suffered an injury while performing your work duties in California, you are automatically entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Since the state has a no-fault workers’ compensation system, employees cannot sue their employers in court, and in return, they do not have to prove that their employer was liable for the injury — only that the injury occurred on the job. 

Injured employees are entitled to the following are common workers’ compensation benefits: 

  • Medical expenses 

  • Temporary disability payments (two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly salary) 

  • Permanent disability payments (based on the employee’s permanent disability rating) 

  • Life pension payments (for severely disabled employees with between 70 and 99 percent rating of permanent disability) 

  • Vocational retraining (for employees who cannot return to their previous job or whose employers did not offer them alternative/modified employment) 

  • Death benefits (for surviving family members whose loved one was killed on the job) 

What are Third-Party Claims? 

If you were injured in a work-related accident caused by a person or entity other than your employer or coworker, you could potentially file a third party claim—which is a separate personal injury lawsuit—against the at-fault party in civil court — outside of the workers’ compensation system. 

Common examples of third-party claims for work injuries include: 

  • An employee suffers an injury in a car accident caused by a negligent driver 

  • An employee sustains an injury caused by defective equipment or machinery 

  • An employee slips and falls on someone else’s property owned by someone other than the employer 

To succeed in a third-party claim, the injured employee must prove that (1) he/she was injured in a work-related accident, (2) the third party (or defendant) owed a duty of care, (3) the duty of care was breached, (4) the employee (or plaintiff) was injured due to this breach, (5) the employee suffered damages as a result of his/her injury. 

What is the Difference Between Workers’ Comp & Third-Pary Claims? 

The main difference is that third-party claims allow injured workers to recover even more compensation compared to workers’ comp benefits. Also known as “crossover cases,” third-party claims can cost typically not covered by workers’ compensation, such as past and future medical expenses, all lost wages, property damage (if the injured worker’s own property is damaged), and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. 

Can I Pursue Both a Workers’ Comp Claim & Third-Party Lawsuit in California? 

Yes, you can pursue both claims separately and simultaneously, which can give you the maximum amount of compensation to help you make the best possible recovery from injury. Keep in mind, many workers’ compensation attorneys exclusively handle worker’s comp cases, while others only handle personal injury claims. 

At Alvandi Law Group, P.C., we pursue both workers’ compensation benefits and third-party claims on behalf of injured workers in Orange County. Do not hesitate to let us protect your rights and best interests throughout the legal processes. 

If you have been injured in a workplace accident in Orange County, call us at (800) 980-6905 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation! 

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