Can I File a Personal Injury Claim If I Received Workers’ Compensation?

There’s a common misconception that Workers’ Compensation is the only avenue of recovery for workplace injuries. While it’s true that New York Workers’ Compensation law bars you from suing your employer for workplace negligence, you may still have options to recover for your damages.

In many cases, there may be a third-party responsible for your injuries — in other words, a party who is not your employer. In workplace accidents, a negligent third-party can be sued for pain and suffering, as well as unreimbursed medical expenses and lost wages.

Can I Pursue a Personal Injury Action for a New York Construction Accident?

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries, with thousands of workers injured each year due to falls, unsafe working conditions, failure to be provided with proper safety gear, and other hazards. Although construction workers can’t sue their employer, liability for workplace injuries may attach to an owner, sub-contractor, engineer, architect, or another responsible party.

There are three laws that are commonly used in construction site accident cases to impose liability on a responsible party:

  • New York Labor Law § 200 requires that construction workers are provided with a safe working environment.
  • New York Labor Law § 240 (1) — known as the “Scaffold Law” — helps ensure owners and general contractors are held responsible for height-related accidents at most worksites.
  • New York Labor Law § 241 (6) holds owners and general contractors of worksites responsible for violations of the New York Industrial Code Part 23.

Employees injured on the job in many other industries may also be able to commence a lawsuit related to injuries they sustained while on the clock. Other exceptions to the Workers’ Compensation rule can include car accidents that occur during the course of employment and injuries arising from negligent security.

When it Comes to Your Injury Case, Don’t Just Rely on the Word on the Street

There is a lot of misinformation that goes around when it comes to workplace accidents. Bottom line — don’t believe everything you hear or read on the Internet. You should consult with an experienced attorney who is well-versed in personal injury and labor law.

We recently represented a construction worker who was struck by a utility pole and suffered catastrophic injuries. The pole had been pulled down when an excavator vehicle working above him snagged an overhead wire connected to the pole.

Opinions came pouring in to the construction worker and his family — he was led to believe he didn’t have a Scaffold Law claim because the case didn’t involve a scaffold or ladder, and because he didn’t fall. There were even some lawyers who opined that his sole recovery was Workers’ Compensation. Then he found our firm.

We settled his case for $36 million dollars.

When the client first came to us, we believed there was a labor law violation on first impression and thoroughly researched the issue. Everyone else who offered opinions was unaware that New York’s Scaffold Law has been expanded in recent years to include other height-related risks, such as falling objects. 

The judge decided that the case was a labor law violation, finding that the owner was 100 percent responsible for the accident without any need for a trial. A few months later, we settled with the owner for the highest reported settlement in a case of this kind that we’re aware of.

The point is, if you’re injured on the job and told you can only recover through Workers’ Compensation, it may be necessary to get a second opinion.

Consult with an Experienced New York City Personal Injury Attorney

If you suffered injuries in a workplace accident, it’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can explain your legal rights and remedies beyond Workers’ Compensation. You may be entitled to unreimbursed medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic damages. It’s critical to act quickly — the statute of limitations begins running from the accident date. You only have a limited time to file a personal injury claim in New York.

The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP have extensive experience fighting for the rights of injured workers to ensure they get the maximum compensation they deserve. Located in Manhattan, we have been handling personal injury cases throughout New York City since 1937. Call to schedule a free consultation at (212) 425-1999 today.