Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | August 17, 2022 | Workplace Accidents
COVID-19 had far-reaching impacts on many individuals. In addition to going through COVID, some individuals have had to deal with the symptoms of “Long COVID.” The result is a significant health issue that can have life-altering consequences.
Some individuals had the choice of working from home or using unemployment benefits to stay at home during the pandemic. However, if you had to work and were exposed to COVID-19 at work, can you sue your employer for COVID exposure?
Can You Sue Your Employer for Exposure to COVID?
Many workers have thought about filing a lawsuit for COVID exposure. However, there are a few hurdles that they would need to clear before they sue an employer for COVID.
For example, before you can sue your employer for COVID, you must prove that you contracted the virus at work. People could be exposed to COVID-19 while shopping for groceries. Children could have been exposed to the virus at school and brought it home.
Therefore, proving that you caught COVID in the workplace could be difficult. However, working in a high-risk environment could make it easier to prove that you got sick at work. For example, many health care workers were exposed to COVID daily.
Another legal hurdle is proving that your employer failed to take reasonable steps to protect employees from contracting COVID-19. For example, did your employer provide you with PPE (personal protective equipment)? Did your employer fail to follow accepted duties of care, and did that failure cause or contribute to you contracting the coronavirus?
With the coronavirus, the requirements to reduce the risk of exposure changed throughout the pandemic. Therefore, the accepted duties of care could have changed. You would need to prove when you contracted the virus, the level of care required at that time, and that your employer failed to meet that standard of care.
Because of the pandemic, special state and federal laws were passed regarding COVID-19. These laws could impact a COVID lawsuit against an employer. The only way to know whether you have a workers’ compensation claim or a claim directly against your employer is to talk with an experienced New York workplace injury lawyer.
Can You Sue Your Employer for Workplace Injuries or Illnesses?
Workplace injuries and illnesses generally fall under workers’ compensation laws. Typically, employees are limited to filing claims through the workers’ comp system. However, there are exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule for workplace injuries.
An employee could have a legal claim to sue their employer if:
- The employer did not have the required workers’ compensation insurance coverage; or
- The employer intentionally caused the employee’s injury.
Intentional torts, such as an assault, can lead to a lawsuit against an employer. However, other actions could fall into the exception.
For example, intentionally requiring workers to use faulty or defective equipment could be considered an intentional tort. Failing to provide required protective equipment could result in a lawsuit against the employer.
Workplace accident lawsuits against employers are highly complex injury cases. You must overcome numerous legal hurdles. Before suing an employer for a workplace injury, talk with an experienced New York workplace accident lawyer.
Suing a Third Party for a Workplace Injury or Illness in NYC
Some injuries on the job could involve a third party. Workers’ compensation does not shield third parties from liability for a workplace injury.
Examples of parties that could be liable for your work injury include:
- Property owners
- Contractors and subcontractors
- Manufacturers of defective tools or equipment
- Drivers who cause accidents
- Parties who intentionally cause an injury to an employee
The reason for filing a third-party lawsuit or a lawsuit against an employer is to recover compensation for the full extent of your damages. Workers’ compensation does not compensate the employee for pain and suffering. Furthermore, workers’ comp only compensates injured workers for a portion of their lost wages.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Third-Party Personal Injury Lawsuit?
In a lawsuit, you can recover compensation that would not be available in a worker’s compensation case.
Economic damages paid in a lawsuit can include:
- Compensation for the full amount of lost wages
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- In-home nursing care
- Future lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Personal care and household services
In addition, a lawsuit can compensate the employee for non-economic damages, including:
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain and suffering
- Disability and impairment
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Decrease in quality of life
Even though workers’ compensation is generally an exclusive remedy for workplace injuries, your situation could be an exception. After a workplace illness or injury, seek immediate medical attention. Then, seek legal advice from an experienced New York workplace injury lawyer.