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Can I Sue My Employer for an Injury on the Job in Addition to Worker’s Comp?

Workers Compensation Injury Law Suit

New York has specific laws in place that provide compensation for injured workers. When someone is injured on the job, the employer’s workers compensation insurance will pay for the injured employees’ medical bills and lost wages, regardless of who was at fault. Speaking to a Workers’ Compensation lawyer as soon as possible after an on-the-job accident ensures that filing deadlines will be met.

In exchange for employers providing workers compensation insurance for their employees, injured workers cannot sue their employer for an on-the-job accident and injuries. However, if your accident was caused by a “third party” (i.e., another company or a worker not employed by your employer), you may be able to commence a “third-party lawsuit” to recover for the pain-and-suffering that your injuries cause.

Again, workers’ compensation benefits are available to anyone injured while working. But they are limited in that they only cover medical bills and a percentage of your lost wages while you cannot work. Workers compensation insurance does not cover the potentially significant pain and suffering that on-the-job injuries may cause. Such pain and suffering damages are recoverable only in a third-party lawsuit.

Because of the workers compensation benefits, and potential third-party lawsuit, that injured workers should consider, and various filing deadlines related to both, it is very important to speak to an experienced Workers Compensation and Third-Party Lawsuit attorney as soon as possible after sustaining on-the-job injuries.

What are the steps to take after an injury on the job?

It is imperative that you promptly report any type of work accident to your immediate supervisor or employer. There are specific time requirements for doing so if you are going to file for workers compensation benefits. After notifying your employer, then you should seek medical treatment.

If possible, you should immediately take pictures of the accident site, or ask a co-worker to do so. It may also be helpful to write down your memory of what happened while the event is still fresh in your mind, as it may be some period of time before depositions, hearings and trial.

After you notify your employer of an accident, they will alert workers’ compensation insurance provider. While workers’ compensation benefits will automatically pay for your medical bills and lost wages, you are only entitled to those benefits if filing deadlines are met.

Typically, insurance companies will start to make payments to you within eighteen days of being notified of your injuries. Keep in mind, you must have lost more than seven days of work to receive payments.

You will be required to fill out and submit an “employee claim” form within two years from the time of the accident. In New York, this is called Form C-3 and is submitted to the insurance company. You cannot alter or change the information you submit, so it is highly recommended you consult with a worker’s compensation lawyer in NYC.

What are your legal resources?

You are entitled to speak to your own workers’ comp and personal injury lawyer in New York at any time during the claim process. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer and personal injury lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights.

You should speak to an attorney immediately, but especially if:

  • Your employer refuses to submit the workers’ compensation claim.
  • Your employer does not allow you to seek medical treatment after an accident.
  • Your employer forces you to keep working even though you say that you are injured.
  • Your employer offers to pay you cash “off-the-books” for your injuries.
  • Your employer is discouraging you to file a claim.
  • Your employer says that you cannot file for workers’ compensation benefits because it was your fault you were injured.
  • Your workers’ compensation claim was denied.
  • You are not sure whether you are being paid the full benefits to which you are entitled.
  • You want to find out if you have legal remedies in addition to workers’ comp benefits.

Can I sue my employer for negligence in addition to worker’s comp benefits?

As stated previously, you cannot sue your employer for on-the-job injuries. However, the law does allow for what is known as “third-party lawsuits”. If you are injured while on a construction site, and you can demonstrate your injuries were the result of negligence by a third party, then you may have grounds to initiate a lawsuit against the third party.

Third parties are any contractors, vendors, people, businesses, or other entities that are not your employer. Examples of third-parties include: an employee of another company or sub-contractor, the delivery company that is delivering construction materials to a job site, the elevator company responsible for installing or servicing a defective elevators, or the rental company providing equipment or supplies to the job site.

To illustrate how a third party could be potentially negligent, and therefore a viable defendant in a third-party lawsuit, consider the following situation:

You are working on a new high-risk building in Brooklyn and are responsible for installing the plumbing. While working, another contractor’s hammer falls from above and strikes you in the head, causing you to fall and break your arm and wrist.

The other contractor works for a different employer, which would be considered a third party. Due to the negligence of that other contractor’s employee, you were injured. Therefore, you potentially could have a legal right to sue that contractor for pain and suffering, as well as obtain workers’ compensation benefits through your employer.

What are the pros and cons of suing a third party?

The primary benefit gained by suing a third party is you may be entitled to receive additional benefits not paid through worker’s compensation, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and the total amount of your lost wages. This could result in a significant amount of money.

The challenge of third-party lawsuits that does not exist in a workers’ compensation claim is that it must be shown that the third-party was negligent and at fault for your injuries. This is why taking pictures, having a list of other workers presents (i.e., witnesses), and writing down your account of the events as soon as possible can be helpful in establishing negligence. Plus, having these items when you talk to a Brooklyn worker’s compensation lawyer can be beneficial and let you know whether you have grounds to sue a third party.

Should you sue or use worker’s comp—which is better—if not both?

If you are injured while on the job, whether it is a construction job site or any other type of job, you are entitled to file for worker’s compensation benefits. You should always consider taking advantage of worker’s comp through your employer to avoid costly medical bills.

If a third party was responsible for the accident which caused your injuries, you may be able to sue that third-party. Suing a third-party does not impact the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled through your employer. And again, a personal injury lawyer in NYC can help obtain a monetary settlement or verdict in a third-party lawsuit that includes financial compensation not covered by workers’ comp.

What if I discover I was injured years later?

There are cases where working on a job site may not present any immediate injuries. Sometimes certain injuries could take years or longer before they present. For example, many of the brave first responders after 9/11 are only now being diagnosed with cancers and other injuries caused by their exposure to the toxic environment at Ground.

In situations like this, where injuries are diagnosed years after an employee worked at certain locations, an injured worker may still have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits, a third-party lawsuit, or, in the case of 9/11, file a claim to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

Whether your injuries occur immediately while on the job or do not present themselves until several years later, it is always in your best interests to get legal advice from a qualified and knowledgeable work injury lawsuit settlements lawyer in NYC, like those at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C.

For years, we have helped guide injured workers through workers’ compensation claims and third-party lawsuits, obtaining multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for gravely injured workers.

If you have been injured on a construction job site, or any job, and would like legal advice on workers’ comp and third-party lawsuits, please contact The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. at (212) 970-6500 to schedule a free consultation appointment today.