If you find yourself in an accident on the job, you should consult a New York City workplace accident lawyer to help you determine if you can file a lawsuit. When you bring in a case for personal injuries, the parties you sue have the right to bring in other entities, they believe, are responsible for your accident and injuries, or who have a contractual duty to compensate you for their negligence in causing your accident. They can bring in these other entities through an additional lawsuit called “third-party action”. These are especially common in Labor Law (construction accident) cases.
Workplace Accidents in New York
Your New York City workplace accident lawyer will tell you if your accident on the job is covered under the New York State Labor Law. The Labor Law holds the owners of construction sites, and their agents and contractors, liable for certain classes of workplace accidents. Because of the Workers’ Compensation Laws, a worker involved in a workplace accident cannot sue their employer. However, a worker’s employer is often the party most responsible for the accident. Because of this, the defendants (property owner and general contractor) often start third-party claims against the employer. This can sometimes be beneficial to a plaintiff (usually an injured worker), as third-party actions can bring in necessary parties – and additional insurance policies – into a lawsuit. However, they can also complicate lawsuits and cause them to take much longer to resolve.
In a case dealing with this issue, a man was working for a contractor at a construction site. A supervisor from the general contractor asked him to raise a pipe which was too low. The man told the supervisor that he needed a ladder to reach the pipe which was fifteen feet above him. The man’s company did not have a ladder that reached that high. The supervisor for the general contractor pointed to a ladder in the area and told him to use that one.
A Ladder Accident
The man climbed the ladder and was tightening bolts on the pipe. While atop the ladder, the ladder suddenly split into two pieces. As a result, he fell and sustained injuries. The injured construction worker filed a lawsuit against the owner, the developer, the managing agent, and the general contractor. The owner and general contractor argued that they had entered into an agreement with another entity to perform HVAC work at this construction site. That other entity hired the plaintiff’s employers to perform some of the work under the HVAC agreement.
The defendants sued the worker’s employer. In turn, they argued that they were not, in fact, the injured worker’s employer, and that he was working for another contractor on the site. The owner and general contractor also filed third-party claims against the company that the plaintiff’s employer said he was truly employed by, the company that supplied the ladder from which the plaintiff fell.
These third-party claims included breach of contract claims, negligence claims, contribution claims, indemnification claims, and failure to procure insurance claims.
The worker had a strong case under the scaffold law. His lawyer asked the judge to decide liability in his favor. The judge agreed that the defendants were liable for his accident. Accordingly, the court granted his request. After lengthy negotiations, this case settled for $3,625,000.
The third-party claims and cross-claims proceeded to trial. The court dismissed the claims against the plaintiff’s alleged employer. A jury determined that plaintiff’s actual employer was not negligent because the company that hired his employer did not have a written contract to perform the HVAC work. Thus, they did not have to contribute to the settlement. If you are involved in an accident on the job, you need to contact a New York City workplace accident lawyer to get you the compensation you deserve.