Is workers compensation my only option for a workplace accident?

IS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION MY ONLY OPTION?

In New York as in many other states, employers are protected from excessive civil litigation by their employees when they sign with workers compensation insurance. Employees at a workplace covered by this insurance are restricted from pursuing a personal injury claim against their employer in the case of a workplace accident. Workers’ compensation insurance is beneficial to both employers and employees in that it guarantees the injured worker a payout while ensuring the employer that they will not have to spend time in court or settlement negotiations.

Many workers wonder whether there are any other options for seeking compensation in the event that they sustain an injury on the job. While there are no further means of gaining compensation from the employer, the presence or involvement of a third party in the accident may open another door.

Third party liability claims involving a work accident are not made against the employer or any coworkers of the injured employee. Rather, they are claims against a separate person or company that may have contributed to the injuries and therefore have responsibility for the damages. Third-party claims often arise in the event that the worker was injured by defective equipment or if a customer was involved in causing the injuries.

The most common type of third-party claim for a work accident is against manufacturing companies or sellers of equipment at the business. Tools, materials and machinery used daily by workers can easily suffer a malfunction due to a defect in the production or design. If that is the case, a product liability claim can be brought by the injured worker to the manufacturing company responsible for the defect that caused the accident.

A good example of a work accident warranting a third-party product liability claim would take place at a deli where the workers are constantly interacting with sharp machinery to slice meat for deli sandwiches. Suppose the electric slicer has a loose screw that causes the blade to fall on the leg of one of the workers one day. Because the accident took place at the individual’s workplace, they can claim workers’ compensation insurance from their employer. Furthermore, since the injuries were directly caused by a malfunction of the work equipment, the manufacturing company of that slicer can also be held liable for the damage their defective product caused.

Another example of a liable third party would be the janitorial services company. Any negligence on the party of contracted janitors that leads the workers to fall or trip not only qualifies them for workers’ compensation but also for a negligence claim against the janitorial company. Hazardous conditions such as recently mopped floors without proper caution signs can easily lead to a slip and fall accident. While the employer cannot be the subject of a premises liability claim for that accident, the injuries are covered by the liability of the janitorial service to adequately warn of dangerous conditions such as wet floors during clean up.

Additional options for seeking more compensation apply to federal employees and those injured on a construction site. When accidents lead to seriously debilitating injuries such as is common in construction accidents, employees are eligible to receive larger settlements than average work accidents tend to provide. Workers’ compensation may provide finances needed for immediate medical attention but since construction accidents tend to result in catastrophic injuries, workers may also be able to file a personal injury claim to pursue additional payment.

If you need assistance in filing a workers’ compensation claim following an accident at your workplace or if you would like to learn more about options available for victims of construction accidents, contact a New York City personal injury attorney at Greenberg & Stein, P.C. today.

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