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Can You Sue Your Employer For Negligence as an Injured Worker in NYC?

Posted in Workplace Accidents on October 5, 2022

Can You Sue Your Employer For Negligence as an Injured Worker in NYC?

Being injured at work can result in substantial time away from the job. Medical bills and lost wages can total thousands of dollars. Furthermore, an injured worker could sustain an impairment that results in a permanent disability.

Most New York City employers have workers’ compensation insurance to cover work-related injuries. Injured employees file workers’ comp claims to receive medical treatment and loss of income benefits. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation laws typically prevent employees from suing their employers for negligence.

New York’s Exclusive Remedy Rule for Work-Related Injuries

Workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy workers have for workplace injuries, according to New York Workers’ Compensation Law §29(6). Therefore, employees cannot sue their employers for negligence if the employer has workers’ compensation insurance coverage. The exclusive remedy also covers situations in which a co-worker is negligent.

There are very limited exceptions to this rule:

  • The employer intentionally caused the employee’s injury
  • The employer failed to purchase the required workers’ comp insurance coverage
  • The employee works for an employer who is not required to maintain workers’ comp, such as the New York City Department of Sanitation, New York Police Department, or the Fire Department of New York

Because workers’ comp is the exclusive remedy for injured employees, the law does not require the employee to prove negligence to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, all the worker must prove is that they sustained a covered injury on the job.

Furthermore, contributory fault rules do not apply in workers’ compensation cases. Therefore, a worker can receive workers’ comp benefits even if they are partially at fault for the cause of their workplace injury.

A Negligence Claim By an Injured Worker Against a Third Party

The rule preventing most negligence claims against employers does not apply to negligence claims (personal injury claims) against third parties. Therefore, an injured worker can file a lawsuit against a third party for an on-the-job injury.

Examples of third-party claims could include, but are not limited to:

  • A property owner negligently causes an injury while a worker is on their property (i.e., a repairman, service technician, etc.)
  • A motorist causes a car accident injuring an employee who is driving in their ordinary course of employment
  • A defective product injures an employee at work
  • A worker is exposed to toxic substances or hazardous conditions on a job site
  • A contractor or property owner causes a construction accident
  • Intentional acts of violence by other individuals

It can be difficult to determine if you have a negligence claim against a third party after a workplace accident. The best way to know whether you can file a negligence claim is to talk with a New York City workplace accident lawyer.

What Does an Injured Employee Need to Prove to Win a Negligence Claim Against a Third Party?

If you are filing a personal injury claim, you have the burden of proving the legal elements of negligence.

You must have sufficient evidence proving:

  • The third-party owed you (the injured employee) a legal duty of care
  • The third party’s actions or failure to act breached the duty of care
  • The breach of duty by the third party was the proximate and direct cause of your injuries
  • You sustained damages because of the third party’s breach of duty

Also, New York’s pure comparative fault law applies if you file a negligence claim. If you are partially to blame for the cause of your injury, your compensation can be reduced by your level of fault.

For instance, suppose you were injured on the job because of a defective product. The jury awards you $500,000 for damages, but finds you were 30% at fault for the cause of the injury. The amount you would receive for your negligence claim would be $350,000 (the total damages less $150,000 or 30%).

What Damages Can an Injured Employee Receive in a Negligence Claim Against a Third Party?

If you sue a third party for negligence after a work-related injury, you can recover economic and non-economic damages.

You could be entitled to compensation for your:

Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, negligence claims allow for the recovery of all damages, including pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation does not permit injured employees to recover compensation for all losses and damages.

Also, an injured employee who sues a third party for negligence could receive punitive damages. Juries award punitive damages to “punish” a defendant for conduct that exhibits willful or wanton negligence or a high degree of moral turpitude. Punitive damages are only awarded in a small number of personal injury cases.

Contact Our Workplace Accident Law Firm in New York, NY

If you need legal assistance, contact the New York City workplace accident lawyers at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #1605
New York, NY 10123
(212) 564-2800

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242
(718) 802-1600

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