Workers’ compensation benefits cover workers injured on the job every day. But these benefits don’t cover all the damages caused by an accident.
In cases where a third party, one who is not the worker’s employer, was negligent and caused the injury, the worker may be able to pursue a cause of action against that party, in addition to filing a workers compensation claim. Third party negligence claims can involve:
- Other drivers: Workers driving in the course of their employment and injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by another driver may have a legal action against that driver,
- Product liability: Workers injured by defectively designed or manufactured products (like an industrial machines or tools) may be entitled to compensation by the manufacturer of that product and those who sell it, and
- Property owners: Workers who are injured in slip and fall accidents on workplace grounds maintained or operated by someone other than the employer may be entitled to a personal injury cause of action.
The amount you could recover through workers’ comp is generally calculated as two-thirds of your average weekly wage, multiplied by your disability rating. If you normally make $1000 a week and have a disability rating of 70%, your wage replacement benefit would be down to $466.20 per week, plus necessary medical care. Personal injury claims against a third party can result in a settlement or jury verdict which includes replacement for past and present lost wages, future reduced earning capacity, payment for medical treatment and damages for your pain and suffering.
Pursuing a third party liability claim requires additional time and patience on top of pursuing workers compensation benefits. Who is to blame for a work related injury generally isn’t at issue in a workers’ compensation case, because it’s a no fault system. Because the damages available to a worker are relatively limited, that also simplifies the process. Procedures are also more limited in a workers compensation case compared to a jury trial.
A personal injury lawsuit could be far more complex and time consuming. The process would start with a complaint being filed in either state or federal court. That could start a potentially drawn out procedural battle where the defendant tries to have the complaint dismissed completely or have it limited in scope. A defendant may also implead in other defendants it thinks may be responsible into the case. Once the complaint is answered, the discovery process normally begins. Experts could be hired by both sides to establish how the accident happened and who is to blame for it. After discovery, a defendant could ask for a motion for summary judgment in its favor. There could be any number of issues that would need to be resolved before a trial, and after a decision is made, it could be appealed.
But with this added complexity, time, energy and costs of a third party liability claim, also comes potentially far greater damages for an injury. There is no free lunch.
For additional information about New York workers compensation and third party liability claims, or to discuss the particulars of accident claim with an experienced New York personal injury attorney, please call us at (718) 993-9999, or fill out a contact intake form and one our experienced personal injury team members will contact you.