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The workers’ compensation system is designed to compensate employees who suffer work-related injuries. The major advantage of a workers’ compensation claim is that you don’t have to prove that anyone was at fault to win your claim. If you win your claim, you will receive compensation for your medical bills and a portion of your lost earnings.
However, the workers’ compensation system suffers from one major disadvantage: you cannot recover non-economic damages. For example, you cannot claim damages for pain and suffering, which often amounts to well over 50% of the total value of a personal injury claim. But if you can find a culpable third party, with help from a personal injury attorney you can file a personal injury lawsuit and obtain non-economic damages and other compensation not covered by your workers’ comp claim.
Below are descriptions of a few situations in which a third party may cause a workplace accident.
In any of these cases, you should look into filing a personal injury claim in addition to a workers’ compensation claim.
Suppose you are involved in a car accident while driving in the course of your employment. If another party caused the accident, you might have a third-party claim against them. This same principle might also apply to a backhoe on a construction site.
Suppose that a defectively manufactured work tool malfunctioned and injured you. Under New York’s product liability law, you can sue any party in the product’s chain of distribution – the manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer – without proving fault.
If you are injured by a toxic chemical or another dangerous substance at work, you might be able to win a personal injury lawsuit for any resulting injury. You might also file a lawsuit against someone who mishandled an inherently dangerous substance.
A construction site accident can prove catastrophic—a slip and fall or forklift accident, for example, could paralyze someone for life. A construction site accident lawsuit is particularly likely to be successful if you work for a subcontractor and the general contractor neglected safety measures that could have prevented the accident.
The owner of real property in New York bears a certain amount of responsibility for the safety of people who lawfully visit the premises.
Suppose, for example, that you are a construction worker helping to construct a building for the land owner. The owner is responsible for either repairing or warning of any defect on the property that is obvious or that could be discovered through a reasonably thorough inspection (an open manhole covered by tall grass, for example).
You prove third-party liability the same way you prove any other personal injury claim based on negligence.
In a negligence claim, which represents the majority of all personal injury claims, you must prove each of the following four elements of liability on a “more likely than not” basis:
Some types of personal injury claims, such as product liability claims, require you to prove a different set of elements. These claims are based on strict liability rather than negligence.
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove that the defendant was at fault. If you shared responsibility for the accident, the court will apportion liability on a percentage basis. For example, if you were 30% at fault, you will lose 30% of your damages.
Adding a third-party defendant to a work-related injury claim adds legal complications to your case. Don’t try to handle them on your own. Contact our personal injury lawyers who can sort these problems out for you in a manner that maximizes your benefits.
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