When injuries happen at work, the first thing that employees look to is workers’ compensation. However, that is not always the case because, sometimes, an injury may stem from the liability and negligence of other, third-party bad actors.
Of course, one’s workers’ compensation options vary by one’s occupation. Though, all workers generally can avail themselves of workers’ compensation insurance. But, even those workers not covered by workers’ compensation insurance can still file a civil claim against the responsible party, whether it is the employer or a third party. Though, for those workers that are covered by workers’ compensation, the injured worker’s sole and exclusive remedy against their employer is that workers’ compensation insurance. Not so though, for liable third parties.
When an injured worker can show that a third party (i.e., not their employer) contributed to their injuries, they can sue that person directly, even if their employer has workers’ compensation coverage. This can be exclusive third-party liability or in addition to workers’ compensation coverage. For example, if someone is injured at work, but they were injured by another company’s machinery. This could lead to manufacturer liability.
Whether one’s employer will be involved in a third-party lawsuit really depends on the nature of the injury and the claim. Since these cases are civil matters, not related to workers’ compensation, some employers may opt to stay out. Though, if the employer did payout workers’ compensation funds as a result of the third-party’s negligence, then they will likely file to become part of the lawsuit to ensure they can recoup those funds. This does not mean the employer and employee are necessarily on the same side, but it may help get a better judgment or settlement from the third party.
Depending on the state of filing and the facts of the case, instead of joining the employee’s case, the employer and their insurer may have to wait. Once the employee gains a recovery, then the employer/insurer would then file a lien against that recovery.
For Staten Island, New York, readers dealing with these issues, labor law can become complicated, quickly. Though, help is always available.