Every month, a reader asks one of our sponsor legal experts about a work-related issue. These building trades law professionals respond in an Organized Labor exclusive. This month’s expert is Kimberly Wong of The Veen Firm. Ask Kimberly a question at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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My workers' compensation attorney suggested that I meet with a personal injury lawyer to explore a potential "third party" lawsuit. Why should I consider pursuing a third party case?

Workers' compensation is a no-fault system in which your employer provides medical care and disability benefits for injuries that occur during the course and scope of your employment. However, many injured workers find that the workers' compensation benefits are completely inadequate. Under some circumstances, there may be someone other than the employer (i.e. a third party) who has legal responsibility for your injuries. You can bring a personal injury lawsuit against a third party while maintaining your workers' compensation claim. For example, if a defective machine injured you at work, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the machine. If you were working on a construction site and another contractor dropped a beam on your foot, you could sue that contractor for negligence. Unlike workers' compensation claims, personal injury lawsuits require evidence of the third party's fault, but the potential monetary recovery may be much larger than workers' compensation benefits.

Available damages from a personal injury lawsuit include past and future loss of earnings or earning capacity, medical expenses, and loss of household services. You may also recover damages for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment, and other non-economic damages, which are unavailable in workers' compensation. Non-economic damages can provide a substantial recovery, particularly in cases of a severe injury. Additionally, your spouse can bring a claim for loss of consortium to recover damages for the harm caused to your marital relationship as a result of your injuries.

Not every workplace injury will have a potential third party lawsuit. The viability of a third party lawsuit and the potential recoverable damages will depend on your particular set of circumstances. It is therefore important that you speak with a personal injury attorney who regularly handles third party cases to determine your options.

-Kimberly Wong, The Veen Firm, PC
Ask Kimberly a question at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“Interaction via “Ask the Expert” does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Any advice given is neither legal advice nor does it serve as a replacement for hiring an attorney. In addition, any case results mentioned or discussed are not guarantees of similar results.”
Kimberly Wong

This Month's Expert; Kimberly Wong

Kimberly Wong is a trial attorney at The Veen Firm, PC in San Francisco. Ms. Wong represents families who have suffered serious or fatal injuries that have a life-changing and career-altering impact. She is experienced in litigating cases involving industrial injuries, dangerous premises, auto accidents, and defective products. Ms. Wong has had multiple settlements featured in The Recorder's annual report of "California's Million-Dollar Settlements." She has presented on and has written several articles about various topics related to third-party liability claims arising from workplace injuries. Ms. Wong has been selected to Super Lawyers Northern California Rising Stars list for the years 2012-2017. For more information on this article, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit The Veen Firm’s website at www.veenfirm.com.

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