Five Essential Things to Know Maximize Your NEW YORK Workers Compensation Claim

What can Workers Compensation do for you?
If you are injured on the job in New York State, you may be eligible for Workers Compensation benefits.  Under the Workers Compensation Law, a person with a work-related injury may apply for payments relating to medical care, rehabilitation, and lost wages if he or she has to miss work.  Workers Compensation is a kind of compromise between employer and employee.  In general, employees give up their right to sue their employer for negligence causing a work-related injury, disease or disability.  In return, employees receive payments regardless of fault, as long as the injury occurred on the job.  Employers are required to carry workers compensation insurance or to meet self-insurance requirements.  Employees cannot be made to contribute towards the cost of the insurance.

Are There Exceptions to the ‘No-Fault’ Rule?
Workers Compensation is the exclusive remedy for most worksite injuries. There are however, certain exceptions.  In New York, there are special laws that provide additional protection if you were injured as a result of a ladder or scaffolding accident at a construction site.  At times, a third party, someone other than your employer, may have contributed to the injury. For example, a worksite owner, product manufacturer or subcontractor may be responsible for a hazardous or unsafe working condition.  Workers Compensation cannot punish third parties for creating dangerous working conditions and using inadequate safety controls.  In such cases, you must file a lawsuit claiming third party liability.

What is Third Party Liability?
Third party liability arises when the negligence of someone other than the employer results in work-related injury.  For instance, the manufacturer of a product used in the workplace may fail to insure that the product is safe and appropriate for its intended use.  Equipment may be defectively designed, inadequately tested, improperly inspected, or carelessly assembled.  It may be lacking adequate warnings and directions for proper use as well as effective safety devices.  The owner of the worksite may fail to maintain a safe working environment. Or, a subcontractor of the employer may cause injury by faulty use or operation of machinery.  An employee with a third party claim may be able to seek damages for lost wages, disability, and pain and suffering. Third parties should be held liable for failing to eliminate or control unsafe working conditions, machinery and materials.

How Do I Prove Third Party Liability?
Winning a third party liability personal injury lawsuit is much more difficult that securing a workers compensation award.  Simply showing that the injury was work-related is not enough. In addition, the injured worker must be able to demonstrate specific acts of negligence that caused the accident.  To prove his case, the injured employee must be able to obtain all evidence relating to his claim from all potentially liable negligent third parties. Personal injury verdicts in these cases can be quite high, and negligent third parties will often do whatever they feel is necessary to avoid liability.  For example, they cannot always be counted on to disclose all information  relevant to the claim.

Why Is My Choice of Attorney Important in a Third Party Claim?
Third party litigation requires a significant level of legal expertise.  Lawyers must know how to properly investigate a workplace injury and determine who should be held responsible for causing the harm.  Attorneys must be aware of and abide by certain time-frame requirements for filing a third party negligence lawsuit.  In order to obtain all evidence relevant to the claim, attorneys must be aggressive and thorough in ensuring that all potentially liable third parties disclose this information.  An attorney who is knowledgeable about and experienced in investigating and litigating third party claims can make all the difference in this type of lawsuit.