I Was Hurt at Work—Can I Sue My Employer?
If you sustained serious injuries on the job, suing your employer might yield a much larger payout than filing a workers’ compensation claim. Whether you are able to bring a suit, however, depends on the circumstances.
Generally speaking, injured employees are barred from suing their employers following a workplace accident. Instead, they must file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
In the state of New York, nearly all employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation coverage. Should an employee get hurt on the job, this coverage may compensate him or her—or his or her family—for:
- A portion of lost wages;
- Medical expenses associated with treating the injury;
- Supplemental disability or death benefits;
- Funeral and burial expenses if the injury proves fatal; and
- Death benefits for surviving dependents.
This system is in place to limit costly, complicated, and lengthy litigation proceedings between employers and employees. There is at least one major drawback, though; workers’ comp doesn’t compensate claimants for their non-economic damages.
Personal injury or wrongful death plaintiffs, on the other hand, may seek funds for all of the aforementioned damages in addition to non-economic damages. Examples include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment in life, physical impairment, and disfigurement. It may also be possible to obtain compensation for lost earning capacity and other objectively verifiable costs such as home care, child care, and housekeeping.
Because personal injury suits can yield considerably larger payouts than workers’ compensation claims, it is worth consulting an attorney before applying for benefits. By submitting a claim for workers’ compensation, you are essentially waiving your right to sue.
If any of the following applies to your situation, proceeding with a lawsuit may be worth considering:
- Your Employer Intentionally Hurt You: If your employer set out to cause you harm, you may be entitled not only to compensatory damages but also to a punitive award. In order to win punitive damages, however, you will have to prove your employer’s malicious intentions.
- Your Employer Does Not Have an Adequate Insurance Policy: If your employer does not have enough workers’ compensation coverage—or any at all—to reimburse you for the resulting damages, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim instead.
- Your Injuries Were Caused by a Third Party: If neither your employer nor one of your colleagues was responsible for your injuries, you are not bound by the workers’ compensation system. For example, if you were struck by a drunk driver while running a work-related errand in a company vehicle, you could sue the impaired motorist, even if you were on the clock when the accident occurred.
Call 716-855-3761 to Discuss Your Case with a New York Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you were hurt in a workplace accident, contact LoTempio P.C. Law Group to determine the most strategic way to proceed. We’ve been representing injured employees and their families for more than 40 years. Call 716-855-3761 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation lawyer in New York.