Third Party Cases and Right to Lien

Steven Schwartzapfel Feb 10, 2016

In New York, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy available to recover damages from an employer. However, in many cases there is a third party that may also be at-fault for the injury. Though you cannot file suit against your employer or a co-worker, you do have the right to file a lawsuit against a third party when that third party bears some responsibility for your injuries. To fully protect all of your rights and obtain all the compensation and benefits you deserve, it is important that you have a lawyer who is exceptionally qualified to review the facts and circumstances regarding your particular situation.

Examples of Third Party Liability

Some common examples where there may be third party liability include:

  • If you are a construction worker and are injured on the job site, the property owner and the general contractor may be held responsible for the accident because they did not provide a safe work environment. Alternately, because many construction jobs involve employees from multiple companies, if the employee of another company was at fault, that company may be liable.
  • In a situation where a car crash is caused by a third party resulting in you being hurt while on the job, the other driver or their employer (if they are also on the job) may be liable.
  • If you slipped or tripped and fell while on the job outside of your employer’s facility because the property owner or manager failed to fix a known safety issue, they may be liable for your injury.
  • If a piece of machinery malfunctions, causing your injury, the equipment manufacturer may be at-fault (you might hear this called a “products liability” case). We strongly recommend you speak with an attorney to determine if a third party may have been responsible for causing your injury. You may have additional rights and be entitled to additional money and benefits over and above those provided by Workers’ Compensation.

Insurance Companies’ Right to Lien

One important concept to address is that of a “lien”. If we assume that a third party was at-fault for your injury, then you are entitled to pursue a claim against them for damages. However, in a Workers’ Compensation case, you do not pay your own medical costs and lost wages (this is the responsibility of the insurance carrier). The Workers’ Compensation insurance company has paid money on your behalf to cover these accident-related expenses. Under the concept of liens, the insurance company then has the legal right to recover the monies they paid out on your behalf from any monetary recovery that you receive from a third party recovery, whether by lawsuit or settlement. In New York State there is a specific statute that gives the Workers’ Compensation carrier a lien on your third party recovery.

This is important to keep in mind because If you receive a settlement in a case against the third party that caused your injury, your employer’s Workers’ Compensation carrier has a lien against your recovery. This means they have the right to require you to reimburse them out of the money you received. It is important that your lawyer takes this into account when determining the amount for which you will agree to settle your case or you could lose out.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. Today

If you have been involved in a workplace accident and believe that a third party was at fault, you need an attorney on your side who understand the laws and requirements for such a claim. Schedule your no-obligation consultation today by calling us at 1-877-737-4806 or by filling out our online contact form. We will fight for you!

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