Third Party Liability Cases in Aftermath of Employee Injuries

A recent court decision reveals some ofthe challenges involved bringing a third-party liability case.


Our Asheville worker’s compensation lawyers know employers are often immune to such lawsuits via the state’s workers’ compensation laws.

A recent lawsuit involved a plaintiff who was injured, severely, while conducting work as an independent contractor. The plaintiff was providing industrial cleaning services and was injured while cleaning a large tank.

The worker had some experience cleaning different tanks but had never cleaned a “Kettle 910”. When assigned to clean this tank the worker was standing on a railing and alleged that a blade from the tank became active and caught his collar – making him fall into the tank – the worker’s injuries required partial amputation of his right leg.

He filed suit and asserted that the company had been negligent. However, the company responded that it did not owe the worker a duty of care and the Court agreed. Although this is not a good outcome it is illustrative of the difficulty in third party workers compensation claims.

The reason the court sided with the company in this case was that it felt the company did not exercise substantial control over the job site. The court pointed to factors that indicated a lack of involvement on the part of the company with the jobsite and particular task.

These factors included:

• The company did not provide any training.
• The company was not involved in telling the worker exactly how he should go about cleaning the tank; and • The company had not personnel present on the day of the accident.

The court went on to say that it is not enough for a company that hires an independent contractor to simply maintain control over a jobsite. The court’s decision indicates that if a landowner selects which items should be cleaned and has general safety guidelines, they have not necessarily incurred liability.

Under some jurisdiction’s tort laws a landowner is not required to even warn employees of independent contractors of dangerous conditions. It is imperative to know that each factual situation is different and jurisdictions can have different caselaw and statutes when it comes to making legal claims.

In many cases a workers’ compensation claim should be filed against your employer. Typically an employer should be notified as soon as possible and preferably in writing.

If you or a loved one have been injured on the job contact our Carolina worker’s compensation attorneys today by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blog Posts:

Change of Condition in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim May Warrant Benefit Modification, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, January 18, 2014

Your Workers’ Compensation Claim: FAQ, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, January 14, 2014

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