In most New York work accident claims, workers’ comp is the victim’s exclusive remedy. In other words, in most cases, employees can’t file a traditional personal injury lawsuit against their employer for work-related injuries. The only available remedy is a worker’s comp claim. Accordingly, this means injured employees generally can’t recover more money than the workers’ comp benefit limits allow.
There are, however, several key exceptions to this general rule. One of those exceptions is third-party liability. If you are hurt at work and someone unrelated to your employment (that is, a third party) is at least partially at fault for your injuries, you may be able to file a traditional personal injury claim against the third party.
This third-party claim is entirely separate from any worker’s comp claim you might file. So while the work accident claim is subject to the rules and limitation of New York worker’s comp law, the third-party claim is not. This separate claim can proceed just like any other personal injury lawsuit would. Note, however, that if you do recover money for your damages in a third-party lawsuit, the benefits available for your worker’s comp claim may be limited accordingly.
Auto Accidents: If you are driving within the scope of your job duties and are injured by a third-party driver (i.e. someone outside of your company), you may be able to recover from that person’s insurance company (or your own no-fault insurance policy) while also filing a worker’s comp claim. This often arises in situations where employees are injured while making sales calls, transporting cargo for the company, or running work-related errands.
Pedestrian Injuries: If you are injured on the job as a pedestrian and the at-fault party is someone outside the company you work for, you may be able to recover personal injury damages from the driver as well as worker’s comp benefits through your employer.
Premises Liability: If you are injured while working on someone else’s property (for example, a private residence where you are making a sales call, or a third-party construction site) and the injury is caused by the property owner’s negligence, you may have a third-party claim against the owner. Common examples include: slip and fall accidents, negligent security claims, and injuries caused by dangerous property conditions.
Likewise, if you are hurt at your office or your usual place of business, you may be able to recover compensation directly from the property owner, provided that either the owner’s negligence contributed to your injury or the owner is someone other than your employer.
If you are injured on the job because of a dangerous or defective product, you may be able to recover compensation directly from the device’s manufacturer (in addition to your worker’s comp claim). In some cases, you may not even have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent. Common examples of defective products in the workplace include: dangerous chemicals, malfunctioning ladders, defective power tools, unsafe scaffolding, and so on.
In most circumstances, a supervisor cannot be considered a third party. An exception might apply in a situation where, for example, you are driving for work and are in a collision with a car driven by your supervisor or a co-worker. If that person was also driving within the scope of his or her job duties, you could not bring a third-party claim. But if he or she was driving in their individual capacity, entirely unconnected to their job, you may be able to bring a third-party claim against that person individually (in which case his or her own auto insurance policy may be liable for your damages).
If you’ve been injured on the job in New York and someone outside your company contributed to the injury, you may be entitled to more compensation than you realize. These claims are complex, however, so we encourage you to discuss your situation in detail with an experienced New York work accident attorney as soon as possible.
For more information, call HURT-511, our personal injury lawyers help injured workers recover the benefits to which they are entitled by law. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, call us toll-free at 800-4878-511 or complete our online form. Our firm handles accident and injury claims throughout all five boroughs of New York.
HURT-511 operates in all boroughs of New York including all Bronx neighborhoods, namely: Bedford Park, Belmont, Fordham, Highbridge, Hunts Point, Jerome Park, Kingsbridge, Morris Park, Morrisania, Mott Haven, Parkchester, Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil, Throgs Neck, University Heights and Woodlawn.