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Work-Related Accident: Balance Workers’ Comp and Third-Party Claims

While it likely isn’t news to anyone whose job requires them to spend significant hours either behind the wheel or working within the “zones of danger” associated with highway construction, America’s roads are dangerous places to be. Indeed, according to statistics compiled by U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, during 2014 (the last year for which complete data is available), transportation incidents accounted for 40 percent of all fatal workplace injuries.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits: First Line of Recovery for Work-Related Injuries

For any work-related injury, whether it is associated with a traffic accident, a construction incident, or any other on-the-job situation, filing a workers’ compensation claim is the usual first line of recovery. That is because – at least in theory – the provision of medical care is quick and relatively straightforward, and the benefits usually include some measure of disability payments for lost time from work.

Workers’ Compensation: Is it Always the Exclusive Remedy For Injured Workers?

Most workers have heard the mantra repeated by insurance carriers representing the employers: “Workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive recovery allowed the injured worker.” As with many claims made by insurance adjusters, there is some level of truth in the statement. Workers’ compensation benefits are, indeed, the only recovery that an injured worker can receive from the employer. That rule does not, however, limit the injured worker’s right to proceed against a third party whose negligence caused the injury in the first place.

For example, if you are injured in a work-related auto accident, you may not sue your employer for pain and suffering and other losses associated with your injury. You are entirely allowed, however, to sue the driver of the other vehicle or any third party (other than a co-employee) who caused your injury.

Injured Workers Often Have Two, Separate Claims – Not Just One

Injured workers should always carefully analyze the incident within which they sustained injury. Was the accident or injury caused by the negligence of another driver? Was it caused by the negligence of a manufacturer that produced a defective product? While such an analysis can sometimes seem like one is splitting hairs, it is a necessary exercise if you want to recover all of your damages. The thing to always keep in mind is that an injured worker may not have just one claim; he or she could have two. Ordinarily, skilled legal counsel is required to sort out these complex legal issues.

The Firm of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Has More than 125 years of Experience Helping New Yorkers

Workers’ compensation law and auto accident law are complex areas of jurisprudence, and the rules in those two legal “worlds” differ dramatically. Having an attorney who knows the rules on both sides of the claim can be crucial to your overall recovery. One important thing: The statutes of limitation – the time limits within which you must file a claim – can differ, depending upon what type of claim you have. Time, therefore, is your adversary, almost as much as the other party.

Whether you have a work-related injury, an auto accident injury (or both), the law firm of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy has the experience and resources to help you establish your claim and negotiate the best possible settlement. We also have the skill and tenacity required to take your case to trial, if necessary. As one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the capital district, we have been representing clients for more than 125 years. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 730-7270 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.