Definition of Third Party Claim
A third party claim or action is defined as a claim that is made by a defendant in an existing legal proceeding that seeks to direct a person that was not party to the original action, to enforce a related duty. It is a claim that is made against a third party in a third party complaint. As it applies to workers' compensation, a third party claim is a legal action that an injured worker is allowed to pursue against a party, other than their employer, who has responsibility or liability for that worker's work-related injury or illness.
In return for receiving workers' compensation benefits, a worker is not allowed to sue their employer for a work-related injury or illness. One of the hallmark aspects of workers' compensation is that it is an injured worker's only remedy against their employer. However, if there is a third party that has responsibility for a worker's work-related injury or illness, that worker is allowed to bring a third party claim against that third party.
For example, a worker makes a delivery for their employer as part of their job. During the delivery, the worker is rear-ended by another driver and suffers severe spinal injuries. The worker is permitted to bring a third party claim against the driver who rear-ended them. This is very important because a third party claim can mean a far greater compensation to an injured worker than workers' compensation. This is because things like pain and suffering and punitive damages may be awarded in a third party claim. These are not a part of workers' compensation.