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New Jersey Court Discusses Third Party Claims for Work Injuries


An employee that suffers an injury at work generally has the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In many instances, though, the benefits awarded are insufficient to fully address the harm suffered by the employee. As such, in cases in which a third party contributed to the employee’s harm, he or she may also seek to pursue claims against that person or entity as well. The third-party cannot, however, then seek contribution from the employer, as discussed by a New Jersey appellate court in a recent case. If you were injured at work, you may not only be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, but you may also be able to pursue damages from other parties, and it is advisable to meet with a skillful New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your possible claims.

Factual History

It is reported that the defendant obtained a contract to replace a roof on an elementary school. The defendant then subcontracted some of the work to a construction company that employed the plaintiff. While working on the project, the plaintiff fell off of the roof and suffered significant injuries. The plaintiff sought and received workers’ compensation benefits from his employer. He then filed a complaint against the defendant, alleging that it was negligent in failing to provide a work environment that was reasonably safe.

Allegedly, the defendant company then filed a third-party complaint against the employer, arguing it was liable for the plaintiff’s harm. The employer filed a motion for summary judgment, averring that the defendant’s claims were barred by the Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). The court granted the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Third-Party Claims Seeking Damages for Workplace Injuries

The Act compensates employees for accidental injuries that occur in the course of employment. The recovery of benefits under the Act is the sole remedy for an employee that suffers harm in an accident that arises during the course of employment with regards to claims against the employer.  In other words, it provides a method for an employee to provide compensation for an injury, regardless of fault, assumption of risk, or contributory negligence.

The Act does not prohibit an employee that receives workers’ compensation benefits from pursuing claims against other parties that caused or contributed to his or her harm, however. While an employee’s recovery of damages from a third party will offset the employer’s liability under the Act, the third party cannot seek indemnification or contribution from the employer. Rather, the clear intention of the Act is that an employer’s sole liability is for workers’ compensation benefits. While there are some exceptions in cases involving intentional acts, no intentional wrongs were alleged in the subject case. As such, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to an Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney

While workers’ compensation is the sole remedy for injured employees to recover damages from their employer, employees are not prohibited from seeking compensation from other parties. If you suffered a workplace injury, the experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys of Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and advise you of whether you may be able to institute a third-party claim for damages. You can reach us via our form online or at (934) 200-5372 to schedule a conference.