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Serious personal injuries, including catastrophic injuries, can occur almost anywhere. Whether you are driving to pick up your child from school or you are walking to the restroom while patronizing a restaurant or at your place of employment, an accident can quickly and unexpectedly result in severe personal injuries. Yet workplace accidents are handled somewhat differently from accidents and injuries that occur in other settings. Most significantly, anyone who gets hurt at work should understand that workers’ compensation is an “exclusive remedy” for workplace injuries caused by negligence. However, there are some types of situations in which a personal injury lawsuit could be appropriate after a workplace injury.
An experienced Rochester personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case and can discuss your options with you. In the meantime, we want to provide you with more information about eligibility for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a workplace accident.
For Many Workplace Injuries, Workers’ Compensation is the Exclusive Remedy
Under New York law, workers’ compensation benefits are known as the exclusive remedy for a workplace injury. What is an exclusive remedy? No matter who was negligent—an employer, a co-worker, or the injured worker—the injured worker can be eligible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. In exchange for the ability to seek workers’ compensation benefits through this no-fault system, the worker cannot file a lawsuit against a negligent employer or a negligent co-worker. Rather, the workers’ compensation benefits serve as the exclusive remedy.
Yet there are a number of exceptions to the rule in terms of workers’ compensation being the exclusive remedy. In some of these exceptions, the injured employee may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer. In other situations, the injured employee could be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party.
Employers Can Be Sued for Intentional Wrongdoing
Workers’ compensation is only an exclusive remedy for a workplace injury when the accident and injury resulted from negligence. If an employer engages in intentional wrongdoing, or any kind of behavior that is designed to intentionally cause harm to an employee, then the injured employee may be able to file a lawsuit against the employer. For example, if an employer intentionally assaults an employee, or if an employer intentionally removes safety precautions from a workplace machine or device, then the employee may be able to file a lawsuit against that employer.
Employers Can Be Sued for Negligence in Construction Site Accidents
Employers can also be sued when their negligence results in a construction site accident. New York is unique in this regard. Under New York Labor Law §§ 200, 240, and 241, a construction site employee who is injured as a result of an employer’s negligence can be eligible to file a lawsuit against the employer, construction site owner, or other responsible party in addition to seeking benefits through the New York workers’ compensation system. To be clear, in the case of construction site accidents caused by an employer’s negligence, workers’ compensation is not the exclusive remedy.
Third Parties Can Face Personal Injury Lawsuits
Finally, if someone other than an employer or a co-worker is at fault for your injuries, whether they were negligent or engaged in intentionally harmful behavior, can be sued. Indeed, workers’ compensation is not the exclusive remedy for a workplace accident caused by a third party. For example, if you were injured at work in an elevator or escalator accident caused by a defective part, the designer or manufacturer of the elevator or escalator can face consequences in a personal injury lawsuit. The same goes for workplace accidents caused by other types of product defects.
In addition, if a third party is near your place of employment and causes your injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit against that third party. For example, if your office parking and loading zone is shared with other businesses, many different drivers might be in that parking lot. If you are loading a vehicle as part of your job duties when a distracted driver on his or her phone backs out of a parking space and into you, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against that distracted driver. The same is true for similar situations in which a third party negligently or intentionally causes your workplace injury.
Seek Advice from a Rochester Workplace Injury Attorney
Do you need advice about your options for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a workplace injury? You could have more than one path forward in terms of seeking financial compensation. It is critical to talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rochester who can help you to determine whether you are eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. Contact King Law today to learn more about our services.