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Can I Sue My Employer Instead?

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Can I Sue My Employer Instead of Accepting New York Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Leading NYC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Advocate for Injured Workers’ Right to Full Compensation

The NYC workers’ compensation laws are founded on the facts that:

  • All employers must provide insurance coverage to compensate employees for all work injuries, regardless of fault, and
  • The employee gives up the right to sue the employer or co-workers for additional compensation.

Of course, in practice, the NYC legal system is rarely so simple.  One exception exists to this rule that can allow you to sue your employer in certain situations: if your employer intentionally caused your injury.  Despite this, third-party, non-employers who contributed to the cause of your work injury are subject to lawsuits via the third-party claims (personal injury) system.

At Proner & Proner, our top-rated workers’ compensation lawyers have over 50 years’ combined experience handling complex work accident cases.  We are dedicated to helping injured workers get the full amount of compensation to which they are entitled—whether through workers’ compensation or the personal injury process.

If you have been hurt while on the job, call or contact our top-rated workers’ compensation lawyers for a free consultation today.  We can help you learn more about your right to sue an employer or a third party for injuries sustained at work.

Suing Your Employer Instead of Accepting NYC Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Personal injury lawsuits generally require that the injured party prove someone else’s negligence caused the injury.  The workers’ compensation system began for the simple reason that while employees are often injured at work, it is very difficult to prove that the employer’s negligence caused the injury.  Workers’ compensation is designed to protect employers and employees alike by providing employees with compensation regardless of fault.

However, the situation changes when you can prove that your employer committed an “intentional tort”.  Intentional tort is the term used for a type of action that could usually be prosecuted as a crime, but instead is handled by suing for monetary damages in civil court. 

You may be able to sue your employer instead of accepting workers’ compensation benefits if your employer hurt you (emotionally or physically) by committing:

  • Assault or battery,
  • Sexual assault,
  • Fraud,
  • False imprisonment,
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress,
  • Theft.

These types of cases are few and far between.  In most cases where workers file a lawsuit to gain compensation for work injuries, that lawsuit is filed against a third party.

Appeals Process for Denied Workers’ Compensation Benefits in NYC

While you are not entitled to sue your employer in lieu of accepting workers’ compensation benefits in NYC, you do have the right to appeal a claim that was wrongfully denied.  Our lawyers can help you file an appeal if your claim was denied because of:

  • Challenges to where your injury occurred,
  • Claims that your injury was pre-existing, and not work-related,
  • Questions about your employment status,
  • Errors in the amount of wage replacement benefits you are receiving. 

The appeals process functions much like the court system, although we will first proceed to appeal your claim with the workers’ compensation board itself.  If the board continues to deny your claim, a workers’ compensation judge can hear the case and render a decision, considering:

  • Your medical records,
  • Testimony,
  • Information about your wages,
  • Any other relevant evidence.

We can also appeal the workers’ compensation judge’s decision, in which case a panel of workers’ compensation board members (or the full board) will hear your case.  Finally, we have the option of appealing to the formal New York courts for review.

Suing a Third Party for Work-Related Injuries in NYC

Unlike employers and co-workers, third parties involved in your work are not shielded from lawsuits based on negligence. To sue a third-party, you do not have to give up your right to workers’ compensation benefits. Our lawyers can investigate your accident and injuries to determine whether a third-party’s negligence contributed to, or caused your accident.  In these types of cases, you can sue a negligent:

  • Contractor or subcontractor,
  • Property owner,
  • Manufacturer of defective equipment or tools,
  • Manufacturer of a toxic chemical used in your workplace,
  • Engineers,
  • Architects,
  • Driver who caused an accident while on the job.

In a third-party lawsuit, you can recover compensation that may not be available via the workers’ compensation system in NYC.  For example, in addition to medical expenses and the full amount of your lost wages, you may be entitled to receive compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Emotional distress,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life,
  • Future loss of earning potential,
  • Out-of-pocket expenses not covered by workers’ compensation.

Although workers’ compensation is designed to be the exclusive, no-fault remedy for work accidents in NYC, benefits do not cover everything.  Our lawyers can evaluate whether you have the right to pursue a claim for additional compensation by suing a negligent third-party.

Schedule a Free Consultation with our NYC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers to Discuss Options to Get Fair Compensation for Your Work Injuries

Although most injured workers cannot sue their employer instead of accepting workers’ compensation benefits, you are not without options.  Our experienced labor lawyers will evaluate all aspects of your accident and injuries to determine whether you have the right to sue a third party.  We can also help with the workers’ compensation appeals process.

To schedule your free case review with our skilled NYC workers’ compensation lawyers, call our office or fill out this online contact form today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Employer Lawsuits Under New York Workers’ Compensation Law

FAQ: Can I accept workers’ compensation benefits and then go on to sue someone for my work injury?

Yes, you can pursue a third-party claim while collecting workers’ compensation benefits. However, any compensation award that you receive based on your work accident may be reduced to reimburse workers’ compensation. In other words, you cannot “double-dip”—if workers’ compensation has paid 2/3 of your lost wages for the past three months, and you recover the full amount of your past lost wages via the lawsuit, you may be required to pay back the workers’ compensation benefits you have already received.

FAQ: Are there any other situations where I might be able to sue my employer for my work injury instead of accepting workers’ compensation benefits?

Possibly. If your employer neglected to maintain workers’ compensation insurance in accordance with NYC laws, you may be able to file a lawsuit for compensation in the courts.

Workers' Compensation Verdicts & Settlements

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