Can I Seek Compensation for a Workplace Injury From a Third Party?Click For Your Free Consulation
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 129,000 nonfatal workplace illnesses and injuries in private industry in New York in 2020. Many of these injuries and illnesses were covered by New York’s workers’ compensation system. Deaths from construction accidents are rising at an alarming rate within NYC.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim is generally the only recourse an injured employee has for a work-related injury. Workers’ compensation benefits include payment for medical treatment and disability benefits if the person cannot work because of their injury.
However, in some cases, a worker may have the right to seek compensation for a workplace injury from a third-party in New York City after being injured on the job.
Generally, workers cannot sue for work-related injuries covered by workers’ compensation. However, an accident at work could be the fault of a third party. When a party other than your employer or a co-worker causes a workplace injury because of negligence or wrongdoing, they could be liable for damages under tort laws.
Parties that you might be able to sue for a workplace injury include, but are not limited to:
Any third party who negligently causes a worker to be injured could potentially be held liable in court for the worker’s damages. Third-party claims can involve accidents and injuries at construction sites, factories, manufacturing facilities, retail businesses, and any other place of employment.
Third-party lawsuits for workplace accidents provide more compensation for damages than a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation does not compensate the worker for all damages caused by an on-the-job injury. For instance, workers’ comp generally provides about two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
The damages available in a third-party claim are the same damages you could receive for car accidents caused by other drivers or a slip and fall at a grocery store.
A third-party claim may begin by filing an insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. If the third party has liability insurance, the insurance company may settle your claim by paying your damages.
However, if the party does not have applicable liability insurance or the insurance company refuses to settle the claim, you would need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. The personal injury lawsuit could take a year or more to go to trial. The jury decides whether the other party is financially responsible for the injuries and damages caused by a workplace accident.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. You do not need to prove your employer was negligent to collect workers’ compensation benefits. You could even be responsible for the cause of your injury and still receive benefits (with a few exceptions).
You must have evidence proving:
A duty is a legal requirement to act with reasonable care to avoid an accident. “Reasonableness” is measured by what a person of reasonable prudence would do in a similar situation. The breach of duty is the failure to meet the minimum standard of care for a specific situation.
For example, a property owner owes you a duty of care to maintain safe premises. If you are injured because of the property owner’s fault while delivering a package, you may have a third-party claim against the property owner.
Likewise, drivers owe a duty of care to take reasonable steps to avoid accidents and follow traffic laws. If another driver causes a car crash while you are running errands for your employer, you may have a third-party claim against the other driver.
The third-party claim is separate and apart from a workers’ compensation claim that you might have regarding a workplace injury. You need evidence to prove the other party intentionally or negligently caused your injury in all cases.
New York’s comparative negligence laws apply in third-party claims. You may recover damages for a workplace injury, even though you may be partially to blame for the cause of your injury. However, your compensation decreases by your percentage of fault.
For instance, if you were texting while driving when an accident occurred, a jury might find that you contributed to the cause of your injury. If the jury decides you were 50% to blame, your compensation is reduced by one-half. So instead of receiving 100% of the value of your damages, you only receive 50%.
Comparative negligence does not apply in workers’ compensation claims. You can be partially at fault for the cause of a work injury and receive full benefits. However, intentional injuries and injuries while intoxicated may be excluded from workers’ compensation coverage.
Most third-party lawsuits have a three-year filing deadline under New York’s statute of limitations. However, there could be exceptions depending on the circumstances of the personal injury claim or lawsuit.
However, the deadline to file a workers’ compensation claim is shorter. An injured worker must notify their employer within 30 days of the injury date. Then, they have two years from the accident date to file a formal workers’ compensation claim.
Talk with a reputable NYC construction accident lawyer if you are unsure whether you can file a third-party lawsuit for a workplace accident. An attorney will review your case and advise you of all of your options for seeking compensation for a workplace injury. Most personal injury law firms offer free consultations.
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