What are My Rights if I Get Hurt at Work in New York?

Being injured at work can be the beginning of a few serious legal issues for you.  In any case, it is important to focus on your recovery after an injury.  However, it is also important to understand your rights and get help from a lawyer.

Generally speaking, injured workers have the right to file a Workers’ Compensation claim after an injury.  However, damages might be limited under that system, and filing a lawsuit could be within your rights as well.  These systems can help you continue receiving a paycheck and supporting your family.  There are also other rights that will be important to you, dealing with whether or not you can keep your job.

For help with an injury case at work, call the Westchester personal injury lawyers at The Martello Law Firm today.  Call us at (914) 685-6950 for a free case review.

Right to Compensation After a Work Injury in New York

One of your biggest issues after a work injury will be how to get your damages compensated.  There are three major areas of damage you could face after an accident: medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  It is vital to get those medical bills covered, and your family may be unable to go on without continued income.  However, Worker’s Compensation might limit those damages, and it will not pay for pain and suffering.  Speak with our Yonkers personal injury lawyers about whether you have the right to file a lawsuit to recover full compensation instead.

Right to Workers’ Compensation

Generally speaking, all workers in New York are considered “employees” for purposes of Workers’ Compensation.  This means that even if you are paid as an independent contractor, it is likely that you have a right to Workers’ Compensation coverage from your employer under NY law.

The only way that you can be classified as an independent contractor in a way that blocks you from Workers’ Compensation coverage is if you are properly classified.  That means that your employer does not oversee the time, place, and manner of your work; that you are paid with 1099 instead of a W2; and that you do work of a different kind than your employer.  For this reason, many contractors and subcontractors are actually “employees” even if they are paid like a 1099 worker.

When you are injured at work, you have a right to seek medical care.  This emergency medical care should be covered by Workers’ Compensation.  You have to report the accident to get coverage, though.  However, Workers’ Compensation also pays additional damages later.  This includes 100% of the cost of any medical treatment related to the work injury plus a percentage of your normal wages.

The length of Workers’ Compensation coverage might not always match up with your injury, potentially cutting you off before you are truly ready to go back to work.  You could also be left without full compensation for lost wages, and you might have to use a doctor that your employer or their insurance company covers rather than your own doctor.

For these reasons, Workers’ Compensation is not always reliable.

Right to a Lawsuit

Injured workers have a right to file a lawsuit for injuries caused by anyone other than their employer.  Instead of relying on Workers’ Compensation, you typically have the option to file a lawsuit against any party other than the company you work for.  This is because Worker’s Compensation typically blocks lawsuits against an employer, but there are some exceptions to this rule.

When doing this, you can often sue any of the following parties if they were responsible for your accident:

  • A negligent safety equipment manufacturer
  • The manufacturer of a dangerous or defective tool or machine you used at work
  • A driver who hit you while you were working
  • A customer or client that caused an accident or intentional injuries

There may also be other parties you have the right to sue.

However, you also have the right to sue your employer and skip the Workers’ Compensation system entirely in a few situations.  Talk to our New Rochelle personal injury lawyers about whether any of these exceptions apply to your specific case.

Typically, the excepted situations deal with specific types of injuries that are governed by safety laws in New York, such as the Scaffold Law.  This particular law gives victims of fall injuries and other “gravity-based” injuries the right to sue their employer for safety violations, even if Workers’ Compensation would otherwise block a lawsuit.

Do I Have the Right to Keep My Job if I Am Injured at Work in NY?

Generally speaking, injured workers get to keep their job – but there are some limitations to this rule.  There is no requirement under the Worker’s Compensation laws in New York that your employer keeps your job open.  This means that while you are out because of your injury, your employer may replace you in your position.  They can also have someone else step in to cover your work temporarily.

In many cases, your employer will be able to offer you a job with reduced duties that allow you to either stay at work while recovering or ease back into work after your absence.  If your injuries resulted in a permanent disability, this might be the best way to get back to work after an injury – with a reduced workload.  However, these reduced duties can result in reduced pay as well.  If you are later able to come back to work, there is no guarantee that your specific job will still be open, but your employer should try to re-hire you or else it may look like they are discriminating against you for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.

It is important to understand that you have the right to file a Workers’ Compensation injury claim free from discrimination.  Your employer is not allowed to fire you as retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim or because you exercised your rights to appeal a denied claim.  There may be practical reasons not to go back to an employer after filing a lawsuit against them, as you might not want to continue working for an employer whose negligence caused your injuries in the first place.  Our White Plains personal injury lawyers can guide you through these kinds of questions and considerations.

Call Our New York Work Injury Lawyers Today

If you were hurt at work, call The Martello Law Firm today for a free case review with our New York work injury attorneys.  Our number is (914) 685-6950.

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