If you were hurt while working for an employer in New York, you should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible to gain prompt access to benefits, including paid medical treatments. If your injuries are serious, you may need to seek emergency medical care even before filing a workers’ compensation claim. To protect your rights to maximum compensation, it is wise to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Arye, Lustig & Sassower, P.C. has a solid track record of advocacy for the injured. Our lawyers are here to guide you through the legal process of pursuing the benefits that are rightfully yours after an injury at a construction site or any other type of work environment.
Compensation Available To New York Workers
Generally speaking, workers’ compensation benefits in New York include (i) medical coverage and (ii) indemnity payments. The medical coverage provides full coverage for all injuries that are causally related to your accident. Because health care providers are not permitted to charge more than workers’ compensation benefits allow, an injured worker should not incur any out-of-pocket medical expenses for accident-related medical treatment. The indemnity payments are cash payments that are made to the injured worker to compensate for lost earnings. Generally speaking, indemnity payments will cover two-thirds of the average weekly wages (up to a statutory limit for accidents occurring in any given year), which is computed based on gross earnings, including overtime, for the past 52 weeks. It is important to note that these indemnity payments are tax-free.
However, there is a trade-off. In return for receiving workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers generally are not permitted to sue their employers (or co-employees) for injuries arising from accidents that occurred on the job. Instead, workers’ compensation is regarded as the injured workers’ sole and exclusive remedy against their employers. But, workers are permitted to sue third parties (not their employers) whose acts or omissions are responsible for their accidents. Such third-party actions allow workers to recover from culpable third parties for the full extent of their economic and noneconomic damages. So, while workers’ compensation may allow injured workers to recover some of their economic loss based on two-thirds of their average weekly wages during the 52-week period preceding their accident, which is capped at a specified amount for accidents in any given year, claims for lost earnings in a third-party action are not subject to such restrictions. In a third-party action, an injured worker is not locked into their earnings at the time that the accident occurred. Instead, an injured worker can also recover future lost earnings based on projected future wages—which can be significantly more. And, in a third-party action, an injured worker is not limited to only two-thirds of their lost wages, and the amount of lost earnings is not subject to the statutory limit.
More important, injured workers in a third-party action are permitted to recover for noneconomic damages, i.e., their conscious pain and suffering, which is not covered at all by workers’ compensation. Claims for conscious pain and suffering include both past and future damages – and can result in very significant money damages for claimants with serious injuries.
Finally, it is important to remember that even if you believe your accident was caused by the negligence of your employer (or a co-employee), that does not mean that a third-party was not also legally responsible. For example, if a construction worker on a job site in New York is injured because the employer furnished a defective ladder or scaffold that caused the worker to fall from a height, the injured worker generally is not permitted to sue the employer despite its negligence; the employee’s sole and exclusive remedy against the employer is through workers’ compensation benefits. But the injured worker likely has a valid claim against the owner and general contractor for the job site because they have a nondelegable duty under the law to ensure that workers on a construction project are provided with proper safety devices to protect them from elevation-related risks.
Protect Your Right To Recover Maximum Compensation After A Workplace Accident
Attorneys at our firm can help evaluate your case for a potential personal injury case against a third party after a construction site accident or any on-the-job injury. We can coordinate your claims and advise you on how to maximize compensation from both workers’ compensation and the third-party case.