In work injury cases, injured employees may have a number of possible avenues in which to pursue monetary compensation for the damages suffered. One of the first, of course, is workers’ compensation. This is a no-fault system wherein the employer is responsible to pay into an insurance program that provides medical and wage loss benefits for workers injured on-the-job. This system does not allow workers to collect compensation for non-economic damages, such as for pain and suffering, and their wage loss compensation may be limited.
This is why it’s important for injured workers to ask their workers’ compensation attorney about the possibility of pursuing third-party liability. Third parties that might be liable for a worker’s injury could include:
- Manufacturer/ designer/ distributor of dangerous products/ machinery/ equipment/ vehicles;
- The at-fault driver (if the injury was caused by a motor vehicle collision);
- The at-fault driver’s employer;
- The owner of the vehicle driven by at-fault driver;
- The property owner;
- The general contractor;
- Other subcontractors.
This list is not exhaustive, and your options will vary depending on the individual circumstances.
Recently in New York City, a construction worker who was injured in a fall while conducting restoration work in a Manhattan church obtained a settlement of $3.8 million from the church – in addition to what he received in workers’ compensation. It should be noted that workers’ compensation insurers can put a lien on a portion of what is collected in third party litigation so that plaintiffs don’t receive duplicate awards. For example, if a workers’ compensation insurer agrees to cover the worker’s medical expense and the plaintiff goes on to collect damages from a third party for medical expenses, the workers’ compensation insurer has the right to collect what it paid on those bills from the settlement/ judgment.
In the case out of New York, the construction worker was seriously injured after falling 45 feet from a bucket lift, where he was standing alone when the cable and pins of the bucket snapped. This sent him careening toward the floor.
The 57-year-old was reportedly alone in the bucket when the incident occurred. Plaintiff suffered serious injuries to his head, back, hand and ankles. He later had to undergo spinal fusion surgery and surgery for his ankles.
The lift was owned by his employer, whom he could not sue due to the exclusive remedy provision of workers’ compensation law. However, he was able to collect $320,000 total in lost wages and medical expense reimbursements from workers’ compensation.
He next turned his sights to action against the church/ commercial building owner. He alleged vicarious liability for failure to ensure the safety of contractors conducting work on elevated platforms on their premises.
The church was represented in the case by the excess insurance carrier, which agreed to settle the case even before depositions were taken. The settlement involves a $750,000 payout – $5,000 tax-free, to be paid monthly over the course of the next 15 years. This type of action occurs only in cases where defendants recognize they have no strong defense on the issue of liability and want to avoid unnecessary litigation costs.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Injured Worker Settles for $3.8M After Fall From Church Ceiling, April 17, 2017, By Jason Grant, New York Law Journal
More Blog Entries:
Rock Hill Construction Accident Results in Worker Death, April 7, 2017, Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog