New York’s Workers’ Compensation Laws allows workers injured on the job to collect benefits to pay for their medical bills, rehabilitation, and lost wages. In exchange for these automatic benefits, workers cannot sue their employers. However, many people fail to realize is that these laws only bar a cause of action against employers, not third-parties responsible for causing a worker’s injury or death.
Early this year, a sanitation worker was struck and killed in Queens, New York, when a tractor-trailer struck the backend of his garbage truck. In May of this year, a construction worker in Silver Springs, New York was killed when an embankment collapsed and suffocated him underneath the dirt. This past August, a forklift carrying car at an auto salvage plant in New Jersey collapsed killing a worker and seriously injuring another.
These types of accidents are all too common. In a letter this past year that marked the 40th anniversary of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), Assistant Secretary for Labor and Safety and Health David Michaels said, “Fourteen workers die on the job each day, far from the headlines.”
Common Third-Party Negligence Claims
Thankfully, workers’ compensation benefits will be provided to these and the countless workers injured on the job every day. But unfortunately, these benefits don’t cover everything. Workers’ compensation does not cover a worker’s pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
Luckily in cases where a third-party-who is not the worker’s employer-was negligent and caused the worker’s injury, the worker can pursue a cause of action against that person. Common third-party negligence claims involve:
- At-fault drivers: Workers driving on company business or making a delivery and injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by another drivers may have a legal claim action against that driver above and beyond workers compensation benefits.
- Equipment manufacturers: Workers who suffer injuries while working with defectively designed or defectively manufactured products may be entitled to compensation against the manufacturer of the product, industrial machine, or tool that caused the injury.
- Premises owners: Workers who suffer slip and fall accidents on workplace grounds maintained or operated by someone other than the worker’s employer may be entitled to a personal injury cause of action.
If you have suffered injuries on the job, and are unsure about whether a third-party caused your workplace injuries, it’s important to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney in your area. An attorney can help you determine whether a third-party was responsible for your injuries and what specific legal recourse is available outside the realm of workers’ compensation.