If you get injured at work, you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation [“WC”] benefits. Your employer’s WC insurance company will pay: (1) 100% of the cost for your medical treatment; and (2) 66-2/3% or less of the wage you lose each week because of the injury.
WC provides nothing for your pain and suffering. WC provides nothing for pension, health insurance and other benefits that you lose because of a work injury. WC covers only part of your lost wages and usually for a limited time.
You may NOT sue your employer to recover for these losses. WC is your only remedy against your employer.
Depending on where, when and how you got hurt, you may be able to recover for these losses through a third party personal injury lawsuit.
NEW YORK LABOR LAW
Construction is a dangerous business. New York has special safety laws that protect construction workers. These laws make property owners and contractors who fail to comply liable for money damages.
Section 240 (1) of the New York Labor Law requires property owners and contractors to provide safety devices and other protection to employees who work at elevated heights (such as on scaffolds and ladders).
Section 241 (6) of the New York Labor Law requires property owners and contractors to comply with detailed regulations of the New York Industrial Commissioner. These regulations address many common aspects of construction including new building, demolition, excavation and material hoisting.
Section 200 of the New York Labor Law requires property owners and contractors to provide reasonable and adequate protection to all employees.
Some workers are injured as a result of a defective machine or product that is manufactured by someone other than the employer. For example, our client used a grease gun at work to lubricate a backhoe. Without warning, the hose of the grease gun came loose and hit our client in the right eye. Regrettably, he lost the eye. Although WC is his only remedy against his employer, we are pursuing a third party personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturer of the grease gun.
REMEDIES AVAILABLE IN A THIRD PARTY PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT
If an injured worker wins a third party personal injury lawsuit, he is entitled to: (1) lost wages and benefits from the date of the accident until the date of the verdict; (2) future lost wages and benefits; (3) medical expenses from the date of the accident until the date of the verdict; (4) future medical expenses; (5) pain and suffering from the date of the accident until the date of the verdict; and (6) future pain and suffering. These remedies come much closer to making an injured worker “whole” than what is available through WC.
As you might expect, for example, an injured worker who wins a third party personal injury lawsuit cannot recover more in lost wages than he would have earned if he had not been injured. This would happen if he kept all WC lost income benefits AND the lost wages awarded in the lawsuit. Thus, the WC insurance carrier is entitled to recover some of the money that it paid to the injured worker if that worker recovers money in the lawsuit.
ACT QUICKLY ON PUBLIC CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
If you are injured on a private construction project (e.g., University of Rochester), you generally have three years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury lawsuit against a contactor or the owner of the property where you were injured.
If you are injured on a public construction project (e.g., City of Rochester), you are required first to file a Notice of Claim within NINETY DAYS (90) from the date of your injury. A Notice of Claim is not a lawsuit, however, it is a necessary step if you want to file a lawsuit later.
The deadline to file the lawsuit depends on who you are suing. For example, a lawsuit against the City of Rochester must be filed within one year and ninety (90) days from the date of your injury. In contrast, a lawsuit against the State of New York must be filed within two years from the date of your injury.
GET AN EVALUATION
Please contact us for a no cost evaluation of whether, in addition to your WC case, you can pursue a third party personal injury lawsuit arising from your work injury.