In New York State, if you are injured due to the negligence of your employer, you are not allowed to sue. Your only remedy is Worker’s Compensation. Worker’s Compensation provides financial assistance to injured people for their medical bills, as well as a portion of their wages – however, an employee is permitted to sue third parties who are not their employer.
Scenario: A personal injury attorney is in his office preparing for trial, and there are files directly in front of his door. When he calls his paralegal into his office, she does not see a very large file that is directly in her path. As she steps into the office, she trips over this file and lands head-first against the side of the desk, suffering a serious injury.
There’s no question that it was negligent of the attorney to have left the large file where it was, especially considering the fact that he had called her into the office. However, despite her boss’ negligence, the paralegal would not be able to sue. Her exclusive remedy is to obtain Worker’s Compensation benefits.
Scenario: In this variation, the attorney had new carpet installed the previous week and the installers negligently left a piece of the carpet unsecured. When the paralegal comes into the office this time, her shoe gets caught in the unsecured portion of the carpet, resulting in the same accident: she trips, hits her head against the desk, and sustains the same horrific injuries.
Presumably she’ll be out of work for a period of time to recover. Since she is not employed by the carpet company, she would have a case against them for negligently installing the new carpet – at the same time as she received Worker’s Compensation benefits.
It is important to note that Worker’s Compensation has a statutory lien against any of the proceeds collected from a third party, up to approximately two-thirds of the sum Worker’s Compensation paid out in benefits.
Scenario: A FedEx worker slips, falls and badly injures himself on the icy staircase of a home on his route. He is entitled to Worker’s Compensation benefits, as he was injured in the course of his employment. However, he is also entitled to bring an action against the homeowner for failing to properly clear the icy staircase.
That Worker’s Compensation carrier is going to assert its statutory lien by saying “We know you’re suing this landowner. Thus far we’ve paid out $100,000 and we expect to be paid back two-thirds of that when you recover anything against the homeowner.”
If you are injured during the course of your employment, it is crucial to contact an experienced attorney familiar with both Worker’s Compensation laws and the impact upon your personal injury action. For more information, contact Stavros Sitinas at firstname.lastname@example.org.