One of the most frequently asked questions amongst potential clients who have consulted Hurt at Work NYC have suffered injuries as a result of a work-related accident is whether Workers’ Compensation is a lawsuit against their employer. It is a common misconception amongst those hurt at work in NYC that when they get hurt at work that they must file a lawsuit in negligence against
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their employer. Of course, if you get hurt at work in NYC you should consult a Bronx
Workers Compensation lawyer, a Queens Workers Compensation Lawyer, a New York Workers Compensation lawyer, Staten Island Workers Compensation Lawyer or a Brooklyn Workers Compensation lawyer, or if on Long Island, a Long Island Workers Compensation lawyer. If you consult an attorney at Harris Ugalde & Rzonca, LLP, we would explain that this is not the
case. Negligence and fault are generally immaterial in obtaining wage and medical benefits under Workers’ Compensation. Rather, New York Workers’ Compensation in the is a system of compulsory
insurance designed to provide benefits for injured workers without regard to fault on the part of their employer. Prior to the enactment of New York Workers’ Compensation Law, an employer was liable for an employee’s work-related injuries only when that employee could prove that the injury was the result of the employer’s negligence. Bringing a lawsuit in negligence proved difficult for employees especially when employers could raise defenses such a contributory negligence, assumption of
risk and the fellow-servant rule. It was not until the nation became highly industrialized and the number of workplace accidents drastically increased, that the need for a system that would provide benefits to injured workers was developed. Hence, a system was created which required employers to secure compensation if you are hurt at work in NYC by
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obtaining insurance through either a private insurance company, the State Insurance Fund or through self-insurance. The tradeoff of creating a system of compulsory insurance upon the employer, where the employer was subjected to liability regardless of fault, was that employees lost their right to sue their employer for the tort of negligence. However, an employee’s right to sue a responsible third-party, a party
other than their employer, remains intact. Although the creation of the New York Workers’ Compensation Law eliminated
an employee’s right to sue their employer for damages for an on-the-job injury, an employee still has the right to sue a third party who may be responsible for their injuries. A lawsuit against a responsible third-party is referred to as a third-party lawsuit or third-party action. By pursing a third-party lawsuit, an injured employee may be entitled to compensation that they would otherwise not be entitled to under the Workers’ Compensation law. For example, a third-party lawsuit may entitle an injured worker to punitive damages
and damages for pain and suffering. Common on-the-job accidents that often result in third-party actions included slip and falls, motor vehicle accidents and construction site accidents. Therefore, although Workers’ Compensation is not a lawsuit against ones employer, the facts surrounding an injured worker’s claim should always be evaluated thoroughly to discern whether there may be a potential third-party lawsuit.