Employees will inevitably be injured at work in the course of doing their job. In more serious cases, they can be permanently disabled or, even more tragically, killed.
When injured at work, an employee can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits with their employer, which is called a first-party claim.
In certain cases, however, the work injury was caused by the negligence of a third party; you weren’t at fault, and your employer wasn’t at fault. In these situations, you might be able to file what is called a third-party lawsuit.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Workers’ compensation laws exist to make sure people who have been injured at work are financially protected. It is essentially insurance that provides cash benefits and medical care for those who are injured or made ill while on the job.
In workers’ compensation cases, no one party is found to be at fault. However, a worker is not entitled to workers’ compensation if their injury was caused due to their use of drugs and alcohol or if they intended to cause injury to themself or someone else.
Why File a Third-Party Claim or Lawsuit?
Remember, employees who have been injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation insurance benefits no matter who or what caused their injuries. These benefits include reimbursement for all medical expenses, part of your lost wages, permanent disability, and death benefits.
However, workers’ compensation benefits don’t include recovery of damages for all of your lost wages, your pain and suffering, and other emotional anguish.
In order to pursue the full amount of compensation for your injuries, you would file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the negligent third party who caused the accident.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you could be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries that workers’ compensation doesn’t allow for, such as:
- All current and future medical bills
- Expenses from treatment, rehabilitation and physical therapy, at-home care, medical devices, and equipment
- All, not a portion of your lost wages
- Recover the loss of future earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering and mental anguish
- Disfigurement and scarring
If you are injured in an accident at work, a smart course of action would be to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. They will help you weigh your legal options.
Third-Party Negligence: Who Is at Fault?
Work injuries during the normal course of one’s duties are often caused by negligence that was beyond the control of the employer. A typical example of this would be a work injury caused by:
- Car accidents;
- Off-site slip and falls;
- A defect in a tool or machinery.
If the negligence of a third party has injured you while you were working, whom exactly do you file a claim or a lawsuit against? Some potential third parties would be:
- At-fault drivers;
- Property owners;
- Contractors, Subcontractors
- Engineers, Architects
- Tools, equipment, machinery manufacturers.
Like other personal injury cases, to win a third-party lawsuit you’ll have to prove the third party’s negligence caused your injuries.
Examples of Third-Party Claims/Lawsuits
To pursue a third-party claim or lawsuit in addition to your workers’ compensation claim, you need to identify who is at fault and then assess their insurance coverage. If the at-fault party doesn’t accept blame, you could then pursue filing a lawsuit against them to recover damages.
Car Accidents While Working
Let’s say you’re a UPS driver who gets in a serious accident because someone ran a red light and hit you. Or you were on your way to an important client meeting and were rear-ended. After you file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer, you could file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
Accidents on Construction Sites
Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong on construction sites. If you are injured on the job because mandated safety regulations weren’t followed, you may have recourse against the General Contractor of the project in a third-party lawsuit.
Slip and Falls on Non-Work Property Owner
Say, for example, you’re a plumber going to fix a leak in an apartment building. The entrance to the building is covered with icy snow that hasn’t been properly cleared, and you slip and fall and break your arm. You can pursue a personal injury claim against the property owner for not providing safe conditions.
Using Defective Products or Toxic Substances
Technology has made great advances in tools, machinery, and equipment, but nothing is foolproof. You could be injured while using a defective shredder in the office, or a forklift with defective brakes could roll over your leg on the construction site. What if you developed cancer after installing insulation with asbestos for years?
In addition to a workers’ compensation claim, you could file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective or toxic product.
When a worker dies because of the negligence of a third-party, their family members can file a wrongful death claim against the third party. This would allow them to recover more compensation than they may have received from workers’ compensation insurance alone.
Contact a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Options
After an injury caused on a worksite, you might have many questions about how to get all of the benefits to which you are rightly entitled.
An experienced New York personal injury lawyer will help you with your workers’ compensation claim and with any potential third-party claims or lawsuits. Contact or call Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. at (212) 514-5007 today.