Simply put, New Yorkers face limited recoveries in workplace accident lawsuits. There was a time when you could sue your employer if you were hurt on the job for any negligence on their part. But that all changed in the early 1900s with the enactment of the Workers’ Compensation Law. The law sought to help both employers and employees by setting guidelines for medical and wage benefits an employee receives when becoming injured or ill as a result of the workplace environment.
Employers in New York must carry a separate insurance policy called Workers’ Compensation insurance to deal with workplace accidents that do not produce lawsuits. In exchange for coverage, employees have lost the right to sue their employer under a negligence theory. So how does that work? If injured on the job, you as an employee will receive paid for medical care and wages. Your fault is not considered so long as the injury, illness, or disability was related to your work. Employees file Workers’ Compensation claims in a special court which has special hearing officers. The Workers’ Compensation laws guide these hearing officers dealing with workplace accidents. They set “schedules” for payment of medical claims and wages. Navigating these hearings can be overwhelming. We understand the process. We will help you through it.
A WORKPLACE “THIRD PARTY” LAWSUIT
Are you out of luck if you are seriously injured on the job? Not necessarily. You cannot sue your employer directly for an injury that happened to you. Often, other parties may have contributed to your injuries, and they can be sued in civil court. It is what we lawyers refer to as “third party” claims. For example, if you sustain an accident while operating a crane, you may have civil defendants. Did the steering mechanism or the brakes malfunction? Was the job site unsafe for operating the crane? The crane manufacturer and the job site owner and general contractor may be liable for your accident and injuries. You may have a valid workplace accident lawsuit.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A WORKPLACE ACCIDENT?
As always, we are most concerned with your medical care and well-being. So, make sure that you seek medical treatment as soon after the accident as possible. There are also certain requirements under the Workers’ Compensation law about giving your employer notice that you were injured on the job. It is a “notice” requirement under the statute, and it says that you must give your employer a written report of the accident within thirty days of it’s happening.
This is necessary even if your boss or supervisor was there when the workplace accident happened. You need to fill out a written accident report. This discussion only briefly touches on Workers’ Compensation issues. There are so many types of “injuries” that can occur at work besides the obvious injuries to life and limb: occupational diseases, such as the effect of working with solvents on the job over a long period of time. There are also some types of injuries for which you can receive compensation even if you do not lose time from work. As with any injury, the facts of your case will determine which road to take. If you suffer a workplace accident, contact our experienced lawyers and learn about your lawsuit options.