If you suffered an injury while working on a New York construction site, you may believe your only recourse is to file a workers’ compensation claim. While workers’ comp can indeed be the right option, in some situations filing a third party claim can be also possible.
Because of the availability of workers’ compensation, you cannot usually sue your employer for an on-the-job injury. However, if a person or entity who is not your employer caused or contributed to causing the accident, workers’ comp laws do not stop you from suing that third party.
If someone other than your employer causes the injury
On a construction site, there are many third parties that could potentially be involved in the accident you suffer. Many construction companies bring in outside contractors to work on the site. These could include the company that builds the scaffold from which you fell, the electrical workers who failed to properly ground wiring, or anyone else who is not employed by your company.
Other third parties that may bear responsibility for your injury may include manufacturers of defective equipment. If your company rented equipment that malfunctioned and injured you, the rental company may be on the hook.
When you can sue your employer
In some rare cases, you may even be able to sue your employer. Generally, this can happen if your employer does not have workers’ comp coverage or entered into a written contract that allows you to sue it for workplace injuries. Certain grave injuries can also entitle you to pursue a lawsuit.
Understanding the facts
Sorting out who bears the real responsibility for an injury can take some time and investigation. For example, if you suffered as a result of malfunctioning equipment, you need to find out who actually owns the equipment. You will also need to learn what caused it to malfunction. Was it a manufacturing defect or faulty maintenance? An experienced attorney can ascertain the facts of the case and advise you as to the best way to proceed.
How workers’ comp differs from a third party claim
Workers’ compensation can be easier to get, as you do not need to prove anyone did anything wrong in order to cause the injury. You may even get benefits if the injury was your own fault. However, workers’ comp is typically limited to coverage of medical treatments and lost wages. A lawsuit can be more complicated to pursue but can also afford a substantially greater recovery if it succeeds.