Question

Can I start a lawsuit after a construction accident even if I am getting workers’ compensation in New York?

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Pat James Crispi - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Pat James Crispi

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Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be able to pursue compensation through a lawsuit while you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Under New York law, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is supposed to help injured workers through their recovery and to help them deal with lasting issues. As a result, you generally cannot sue your employer after a worksite accident.

There are exceptions that allow an injured construction worker to receive workers’ compensation benefits and pursue compensation through a lawsuit:

  • Third-party claims
  • Labor Law Section 240 claims

What Are Third-Party Claims?

Many times an accident at work happens for reasons that are contained within the business so to speak. For example, a co-worker might fail to operate heavy machinery safely and injure someone. Another example would be a manager insisting people work without sufficient safety equipment, such as harnesses, and someone falls from a high place.

There are situations where someone from outside of the business causes the accident. One example of this is where a worker is driving as part of his or her work duties and another driver causes an accident that injures that worker. In this case, the worker would be able to pursue a third-party claim against the driver while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. These types of claims are referred to as third-party claims because the injured employee and the employer are considered the first two parties involved in the accident and the other party who caused the accident is the third party.

Some other examples of third-party claims include:

  • Defective parts – A worker is injured by a defective part on a machine or tool he or she may be using. In this case the injured worker could pursue a third-party claim against the manufacturer of the defective part.
  • Contractor negligence – There are often employees from many different subcontractors on a worksite at the same time. If the actions of an employee of another subcontractor or the general contractor caused your injuries, we can work to pursue compensation from them.

Labor Law Section 240 Claims

As construction workers know, one of the greatest risks they face on the job is working at height or having something fall on them from above. So, the state of New York enacted Labor Law Section 240 to offer an additional layer of protection to workers injured by falls from ladders, scaffolding and other high places or who have been injured by falling objects or materials. Under Labor Law Section 240, if there was a safety violation, a worker injured in a fall from height or who was injured by a falling object or material can sue the property owner or the general contractor while receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Make Sure You Receive All The Benefits And Compensation You Are Entitled To

After being injured on the job, workers can face a very difficult situation with lost wages and medical bills creating stress and uncertainty all while you should be focusing on recovering your health. Make sure you choose to work with a law firm that understands the available sources of compensation and how to effectively pursue them. You should not have to worry whether there is money that could help you and your family being left on the table.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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