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  • Writer's pictureDan Fleming

Third Party Investigation

Two parties are protected by workers' compensation insurance. The worker is protected from financial loss due to a job related injury and the employer is protected from a lawsuit for liability. If the injury is caused by yet a third party, the third party may be held liable for damages.

Example: Homer Simpson is a parking meter reader. While reading parking meters, a dog belonging to a jogger bites Homer, resulting in a $650 medical bill and one week time loss. The jogger may be held liable for all costs plus general damages.

Liability is usually based upon negligence, which may be defined as "the failure to use the care which is required to protect others from unreasonable risk of harm". The law requires the degree of care of a "reasonable man" in a similar situation. In the case of Homer v. Jogger, a "reasonable man" would have taken precautions to prevent his dog from biting anyone.

Third Party Recovery/General Liability

In order to prove negligence, four conditions must be met:

  1. There must be a duty owed by the defendant

  2. The duty owed must be violated

  3. There must be the proximate cause of the damages

"In the case of Homer, the jogger owed Homer, as well as all bystanders, a duty of control over his animal. The duty owed was violated when the dog bit Homer which was the proximate cause of actual damages."
If injury or damages result from the perpetration of a crime, the perpetrator may be held liable in a civil action for damages.

Example: Q. Grabber steals Mrs. O' Hare's television. As he runs out the front walk he trips and falls. Loosing his grip on the TV it falls out of his hands hitting Mrs. O' Hare who is walking nearby. Q. Grabber may be liable for all damages to person and property. Luckily, Mrs O' Hare was in the course and scope of her employment as a newspaper delivery person at the time of the injury so she was covered by workers' compensation.

Keep in mind the necessity of identifying all potential defendants and the impact it may have from a servant/agent relationship. In O' Hare's case, if Grabber was actually working for and being paid wages by Little Joe's 24-hour Pawn Broker's at the time of the theft, Little Joe may be a potential defendant.


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