In law, the term “third party” has several different meanings that differ greatly from each other. Following is an explanation of some of this term’s most common usages.
The workers’ compensation program exists to compensate employees who suffer work-related injuries. This compensation is normally no-fault, meaning the employee will enjoy compensation regardless of fault. The downside is that compensation is limited to economic damages, such as medical bills and lost earnings. The exclusion of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, can reduce the value of a claim by well over 50%.
Under certain circumstances, however, a third-party claim will arise. The first party is the employee, and the second party is the employer. The third party might be the owner of a construction site who ignored a dangerous condition on the property that injured the employee. Alternatively, the third party might be a driver who caused a traffic accident that injured an employee whose work duties included driving.
The existence of a third party will allow the employee to file an ordinary personal injury claim against them. If the employee can prove that the third party was at fault, they can win both economic and non-economic damages without even bothering to resort to the workers’ compensation system.
The victim of a personal injury might file a third-party claim against the at-fault party’s liability insurance carrier. The liability insurance carrier’s obligation springs not from any direct obligation to the victim but rather from its promise to the at-fault party to cover the at-fault party’s personal injury liability.
Please note that because New York administers a “no-fault” auto insurance system, a car accident victim’s ability to file a third-party personal injury claim against an at-fault driver‘s liability insurance policy is limited.
Vicarious liability is a form of third-party liability. Under a theory of vicarious liability, one party bears liability for the wrongdoing of another. Following are some common examples:
Other, less common forms of vicarious liability surface in New York courts from time to time.
Third-party dispute resolution, a/k/a Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), is an alternative to two-party negotiations. When a third party intervenes in a stalemated dispute, this intervention typically comes in one of two ways: mediation or arbitration.
Mediation is the most popular form of ADR. Courts often push mediation on the parties after the plaintiff files a lawsuit; settlements reduce courts’ crowded dockets. Parties may also agree to mediate before the plaintiff has even filed a lawsuit.
In mediation, a neutral third-party mediator intervenes in what was previously a two-party negotiation. The mediator will attempt to secure the parties’ agreement to a creative resolution of the dispute. The plaintiff will then drop the lawsuit.
Arbitration is an alternative to a lawsuit rather than a supplement to it. An arbitrator is a “rent-a-judge” who imposes a solution on the parties, like it or not. Parties agree to arbitration in advance because it tends to be cheaper and quicker than courtroom litigation. It is normally impossible to appeal an arbitration award.
If you have suffered a personal injury that you believe someone else might be responsible for, take heart. You can seek a free initial consultation with a Bronx personal injury lawyer, with no obligation to hire them. If your claim is strong, any legal fees you owe will come as a percentage of your eventual recovery, not out of your pocket.