After A New York Construction Injury, Could I Have More Than A Workers’ Comp Claim?

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Answer

You could, and there is a good chance that you do. Even if you have a viable workers’ compensation claim, you could also have an additional legal claim under New York law. These claims are not automatic, and you have to take action right away. However, successful ones can make a real difference for injured workers.

Workers’ Comp And Responsible Third Parties

Being covered by workers’ compensation is a trade-off. As long as your injury or illness is work-related, you are generally eligible for benefits. In exchange for this near-automatic coverage, you can’t sue your employer or coworkers for negligence, even if that negligence caused your injury or illness.

That does not mean you can’t have another claim on top of your workers’ comp claim (or instead of a workers’ comp claim). For one thing, if you weren’t covered by workers’ comp, you can sue your employer for negligence.

For another thing, you can sue someone other than your employer who is responsible for your injury or illness. This is called a “third-party claim.”

On construction sites, third parties could include the general contractor, subcontractors, vendors, suppliers or other companies working on the site (as long as you don’t work for them). They could also include negligent property owners and the purveyors of defective products.

Perhaps half of all those injured while working on New York construction sites are eligible to make a third-party claim. Unfortunately, the deadlines to file these claims are tight.

New York-Specific Third-Party Claims In Construction Accident Cases

New York construction workers potentially have third-party claims under New York Labor Law. This is because the law holds general contractors responsible for maintaining a reasonably safe work environment and for providing all necessary safety equipment. Labor Law sections 200, 240(1) and 241(6) each offer injured workers the right to make claims against general contractors who fail to do so.

For example, Labor Law §240 (the “scaffold law”) can be used to hold general contractors responsible when they fail to provide sufficient safety equipment, and someone is injured due to the operation of gravity.

Although it is known as the “scaffold law,” Labor Law §240 applies to a wide variety of gravity-related injuries that have nothing to do with scaffolding, such as:

  • Falling from a great height
  • Falling a few feet but being injured
  • Having an object fall on you
  • Dropping a heavy object on yourself while attempting to lift it
  • Injuring yourself while preventing a fall

If there is sufficient evidence that the general contractor did not provide sufficient safety equipment and you were injured by the effect of gravity, you could very well have a Labor Law §240 claim.

Why Does This Matter?

Workers’ comp only goes so far. If you have a serious or debilitating injury, workers’ comp may not cover all the care you need while you recover. It only replaces two-thirds of your lost wages. Your benefits could even cut off after seven years.

Since a third-party claim is on top of your workers’ comp benefits, it offers additional coverage.

For example, under a Labor Law §240 claim, you could receive additional money for your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering (both mental and physical) and loss of enjoyment in life.

How Do I Know If I Qualify For A Third-Party Claim?

Get an evaluation from someone experienced in New York Labor Law and other third-party claims.

I have more than 20 years’ experience and practice across New York. If you were injured on a New York construction site, you should call. I can outline your potential claims in a complimentary consultation.

Don’t assume you won’t qualify. Even if you have been told you are an independent contractor, you may have one of these claims. Your union status is irrelevant to your eligibility for a claim. Even if you were working without immigration authorization, you may still have a claim.

Everybody is looking out to not get injured. Sometimes, working smart is simply not enough. There are variables on a construction site that you can’t control. When one of those variables injures you, make sure you know about all the claims available.

Disclaimer:

The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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