Common Questions: Third-Party Liability

Categories: Personal Injury

The legal world is often confusing, even for those trained to understand it. Part of the reason is specific language and specific terms and phrases that are easily misunderstood and sometimes misleading. This is why, in most cases, a legal representative and his or her services are so valuable – simply to act as a translator in some cases, and in all cases to navigate through a system that is at times intentionally vague.

But a basic understanding of legal terms is essential to pursue a claim. One of the phrases most commonly used and misunderstood is third-party liability.

What is third-party liability?

The definition of third-party liability depends on the context. In relation to worker injuries, it refers to an outside party, not the employer, and whether they are responsible for the injury. In relation to an accident, it may refer to the auto manufacturer.  


An example on the job may be if a worker is using equipment in the approved manner, but the equipment fails and the worker is injured. In this case, it may be found that the employer is not at fault, but a third party – the tool manufacturer – is to blame. In the case of an auto accident, if a vehicle fails and one car crashes into another because of defective equipment, the fault may not lie with the driver but, again, a third party — the manufacturer. Finally, in the case of harm suffered during medical care,  if a medical device is used correctly but because of its design or function harms a patient, some or all liability may reside with themanufacturer, not the doctor.

Why would a person file a third-party liability claim?

The most obvious reason is to hold accountable those responsible for the injury, and to gain compensation for the harm they caused.  Damages and injuries may be expensive, and, in the case of workplace injuries, at times more than the cap for worker’s compensation covers.

If a worker files a third-party suit for occupational injury, are they filing against their employer?

No. They are filing against a third party potentially responsible for their injury.

Can third-party claims be filed against more than one party?

Absolutely. If more than one party is responsible, multiple third-party suits may be filed. For example, if the work environment is unsafe and a tool fails, then a worker may have suits against both the property owner and against the manufacturer of the faulty equipment.

How do I decide who is at fault for my injuries?

An attorney, after evaluating your claim, will generally walk you through the steps of the suit, and explain your options. They will take several factors into consideration before deciding who is at fault, examining all the surrounding circumstances and making recommendations that will give the suit the best possible chance of success.

Neale & Fhima has over 40 years of legal experience and are proud to have helped thousands of people in Orange County and all of Southern California receive the compensation they deserve. With a 99 percent success rate in all cases, Neale & Fhima are proud to help you fight for the compensation you deserve.