In New York when most workers are injured in a workplace accident, they
are covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. The
workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, which means that injured workers can seek
benefits regardless of their own fault or their employer’s fault.
Not only that, but when injured workers
file a workers’ compensation claim, they cannot file a separate lawsuit against their employers.
In some workers’ compensation cases, the injured or ill (in the case of
occupational diseases) worker may be able to file what’s called a third party claim in
addition to the workers’ compensation claim; however, third party
lawsuits are not typically filed against the employer or a co-worker.
Instead, they’re filed against another liable party, someone else
who was legally responsible for the injurious accident.
Examples of Third Party Liability
Third party liability occurs when a worker is injured during the course
of their work, but a third party is responsible for the accident. For
example, let’s say a worker was driving as a part of his duties
and he was in a car accident. In this case, he could collect workers’
compensation benefits but he can also file a personal injury claim against
the at-fault driver, which would yield him additional compensation.
Another example is a construction worker who fell through an attic at a
house he was working on. He could file a workers’ comp claim, but
he could also file a claim against the property owner’s insurance
company. Or, suppose a woman was bitten by a vicious dog while delivering
flowers. She could collect workers’ comp from the florist she works
for, but she can also file a third party claim against the dog’s
owner, who was legally responsible for their dog’s behavior.
Benefits of Filing a Third Party Claim
Monthly workers’ compensation benefits are less than what an employee
would normally earn if they were not injured, so it makes sense for them
to seek additional compensation when it’s available. Since workers’
comp benefits are limited, it’s highly beneficial for injured employees
to file a third party claim if they have one.
Who is Not Covered By Workers’ Comp in NY?
Workers’ comp does not compensate workers for pain and suffering
or punitive damages; therefore, if an injured worker files a third party
claim, he or she may be entitled to noneconomic damages and sometimes
even punitive damages through a third party claim.
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