Can You File an Injury Lawsuit After Collecting Workers’ Comp in NY?

After being injured on the job in New York, you may be rightfully concerned about how to get the compensation that you deserve.  While workers’ compensation may address some of your harms, it may not be enough.  If you are contemplating a personal injury lawsuit after a workers’ compensation claim is paid, there are some things that you should know.

In most cases, you cannot recover from a workplace injury lawsuit in New York if you have already accepted workers’ compensation.  Whether you are a traditional employee or an independent contractor, you may be subject to New York’s exclusive remedy rule.  Determining which action to take and when can be incredibly complicated, and you should never make any decisions without first speaking to a legal professional.

At The Carríon Law Firm, our New York workplace injury lawyers have years of experience dealing with all types of workplace injuries.  We can work with you to assess your case and determine what path will achieve the best compensation available for you and your family.  For a free initial consultation on your specific case, call us at (718) 841-0083.

Can You File an Injury Lawsuit If You Have Already Collected Workers’ Comp in New York?

Unfortunately, your legal options are very limited if you have already accepted a workers’ compensation insurance package.  This is because many employers and insurers require that employees forgo their right to sue their employer in exchange for workers’ comp coverage.  Of course, if you feel that you were injured on the job by your employer’s negligence, you should still consult an experienced New York workplace injury lawyer to discuss all of your options, even if you have already accepted workers’ compensation.  If you haven’t accepted workers’ compensation yet, we highly recommend that you call The Carríon Law Firm for a free consultation before making any decisions that could limit your monetary recovery.

Why File a Lawsuit Over Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Personal injury lawsuits in New York for workplace injuries can be the more favorable option over workers’ compensation when available.  If you hope to file a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove that someone else with a responsibility over your safety (e.g., your employer or a third party, such as a safety equipment manufacturer) was negligent.  You will also need to show that this negligence was the cause of your injuries.  Your New York workplace injury attorney can help you determine whether your case meets these criteria.

If you have a valid workplace injury lawsuit, you stand to recover substantially more in damages than you might in workers’ compensation payments.  This is because damages in a personal injury lawsuit take into account your pain and suffering in addition to your medical bills and lost wages.  Anyone who has suffered a serious injury at work knows that the consequences of the injury are not limited to your medical care.  Chronic pain, anxiety, and depression are likely to accompany many workplace injuries.  While these may be difficult to quantify, you are likely to recover additional compensation to answer for these troubling consequences.  Your New York workplace injury attorney can work with you to estimate how much you stand to gain from your workplace injury lawsuit in New York.

Can You File a Workplace Injury Lawsuit Against Your Employer if You Were Hurt on the Job in New York?

In order to file a personal injury lawsuit against your direct employer for injuries you sustained while working, you must fit a specific set of criteria.  This is because the New York Workers’ Compensation Law requires most employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits to their employees who are injured on the job.  The trade-off here is immunity from lawsuits for most employers.  This is referred to as the “exclusive remedy rule.”  However, there are some exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule.

One exception is where the employer fails to obtain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for an injured employee.  Because New York law requires employers to obtain coverage, this situation falls outside the realm of the exclusive remedy rule.

Another exception would be where the employer intentionally injured an employee.  The key word here is “intentionally”; the employer must have caused the injury consciously and willfully.  This is harder to prove in court and puts a higher burden on the plaintiff than for simple negligence.

A third exception is in the specific instance where the injured party is an employee of New York Police Department, New York Fire Department, or the New York City Department of Sanitation.  This exception exists because the New York Workers’ Compensation Law does not require these government agencies to obtain workers’ compensation policies for their employees.

Lastly, workers’ can also typically sue someone other than their employer for injuries.  This includes drivers who caused a work-related car accident or manufacturers of defective equipment.

Can Independent Contractors Sue for Workplace Injuries in New York?

Whether independent contractors can sue for their workplace injuries depends on whether they meet a specific legal test.  This test indicates whether the injured person is actually an independent contractor or instead fits the definition of what is known as a “special employee.”  A special employee is subject to the exclusive remedy rule and therefore barred from suing their “employer” for negligence (unless one of the usual exceptions applies).

The test features several factors that must be weighed.  However, not all of these factors must be satisfied to meet the criteria of a special employee:

  • The employer’s right to control the means and methods of the employee’s work
  • The character of the work being performed and whether it is substantially similar to work done by the employer’s regular employees
  • The method of payment to the worker
  • Whether the employer furnishes materials and supplies to the worker to perform the work
  • Whether the employer has the right to hire and fire the worker at will

If a court decides that the injured party is actually a special employee, they may be barred from suing their employer under the exclusive remedy rule.  Speak to one of the experienced workplace injury attorneys at The Carríon Law Firm today to hear more about whether you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Thinking About a Workplace Injury Lawsuit? Our New York Workplace Injury Attorneys Are Here to Help

You deserve the experience and resources of The Carríon Law Firm on your side while you search for justice after your consequential workplace accident.  For a free consultation, call us at (718) 841-0083.