New York State law obliges most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. It’s a “no-fault” system and is, usually, an exclusive remedy for injured workers against their employer (although some exceptions do apply).
Thankfully, claiming workers’ compensation does not stop you from also filing a civil claim against a third party when such action is warranted. When someone’s injuries are severe, that can provide much-needed compensation on top of what workers’ comp has to offer.
What does worker’s compensation insurance cover?
Generally speaking, you can expect the following from workers’ comp:
- Medical expenses: Hospital bills can soon mount up. The insurance should cover bills for treatment as well as rehabilitation and medicines you need to take.
- Lost wages: Many injuries require time off work. The insurance should pay you for this.
- Death benefits: Should you die due to the accident, the insurer will pay your funeral expenses and some compensation to your family.
While helpful, these benefits often fall short of what is really needed when injuries are serious and the consequences of those injuries are not easily overcome.
When can you file a civil claim that goes beyond what workers’ comp has to offer?
If you believe your accident was related to a third-party’s negligence, you then have the option to pursue civil litigation as well. Proving that someone was at fault will be crucial to your success. That is the big difference between the two types of claims. To claim workers’ compensation, you do not need to prove someone was at fault.
Here are some situations where a third-party claim is possible:
- You’re injured by a negligent driver while doing deliveries for work
- You’re hurt by a defective piece of equipment that falls apart in your hands on a job
- You’re hurt by a piece of machinery that was improperly repaired
- You’re injured by a subcontractor who didn’t take appropriate safety measures
- You’re hurt because of a property owner’s failure to keep the premises reasonably safe
While knowing that worker’s compensation covers you provides some relief, civil litigation is an opportunity to hold those responsible for your accident to account. It can often provide benefits that you need to care for your family and provide for your future. An experienced advocate can tell you more.