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What is a Third-Party Claim in a Construction Accident?

5.16.2022 Brian O'Connor Category: Personal Injury

Construction Accident Lawyer for Filing Third-Party Claims

Construction is one of the most important industries in the United States, particularly in New York City and Long Island.  However, it is also one of the most dangerous and deadliest occupations.  According to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), there are approximately 2.7 million nonfatal workplace accidents each year in the United States and construction accidents account for almost 175,000 of those injuries.  Other OSHA statistics reveal that almost 1,100 construction workers were killed at work, which is roughly 20% of all workplace fatalities in the United States.  Although most construction workers who are injured will be forced to turn to workers’ compensation, our NYC construction accident lawyers know that some injured workers will be able to file a third-party claim in a construction accident.

Here at the O’Connor Law Firm, we know that being able to file a third-party claim in a construction accident is a better way to recover compensation in a lawsuit than solely relying on workers’ compensation benefits.  However, third-party claims are the exception to the rule—not the default.  Many individuals who try to file a third-party claim may have their case dismissed in court.  Others may not recover the full compensation that they deserve.  If you or a loved one were injured in a construction accident by another contractor, business, vendor, the owner, or another third-party that is not your coworker or employer, call our experienced NYC construction accident lawyers to schedule a FREE consultation to learn more about your rights to compensation.

What is Workers’ Compensation for a Construction Accident?

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault benefits program that is administered through the state and selected insurance carriers.  The purpose of workers’ compensation insurance, also known as workers’ comp or WC, is to provide a near-immediate source of funds to help an injured worker recover compensation for medical bills and up to two-thirds (2/3s) of lost wages.  Workers’ compensation may also allow for other types of benefits, including for permanent injuries that will be disabling.

Because it is a no-fault system, a worker does not need to prove fault in order to start collecting workers’ comp benefits.  Rather, an injured worker only needs to prove that the injury or illness was work-related.  Nearly all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in New York, and nearly all employees are entitled to collect WC benefits—including seasonal, temporary, part-time, and other types of workers who are less than full-time. 

Workers’ compensation is said to be the “exclusive remedy” for injured workers.  This means that a covered worker will need to go through WC insurance, and gives up the right to sue their employer or coworkers who may have caused an accident resulting in injuries at work.  There are, however, limited exceptions.

Third-Party Claim Exception to Workers’ Comp

Although workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for an injured worker as it relates to being able to sue an employer or coworker, when injuries, illnesses, or death are caused by an individual, business, or government entity that is not an employer or coworker, an injured worker may be entitled to commence a third-party claim in a construction accident.  Said differently, if a construction worker is injured by any other person or business that is not an employer, he or she may be entitled to recover compensation for his injuries under New York law.

Unlike a WC claim, a third-party claim allows an individual to recover compensation for full lost wages as well as pain and suffering—which workers’ compensation laws do not allow a recovery for.  As a result, individuals who are injured by a third-party will often recover more compensation than if they just filed a WC claim with the carrier.

Examples of Third-Party Claims

On a construction site, there are many possible examples of when an injured worker may have a third-party claim.  Some of the most common examples include the following:

  • Motor vehicle accidents to and from the site caused by another driver, or on the construction site caused by another business’ worker
  • Manufacturing defects in products like ladders, nail guns, lulls, and other devices
  • Another contractor or contracting business’ mistakes, such as a stoneworker knocking over a gutter installer’s ladder, or a roofer dropping debris on a siding installer
  • Explosions or fires caused by a municipal or utility worker setting up lines
  • The worksite owner causes accidents, such as not disclosing hidden dangers (i.e., a sinkhole or crack that could cause workers to fall), and
  • Many other defects that could result in serious personal injuries or the wrongful death of an innocent person.

What if My Employer Was Negligent for Causing My Construction Site Injuries?

Generally, an employer cannot be sued for causing your construction injuries.  Or at least, sued directly by you.

If you have suffered what is known as a “grave injury” that was primarily caused by a third-party, that third-party may be able to commence a third-action claim against your employer for indemnification or contribution.  What this means is that, for certain types of very serious injuries, a third-party who caused your injuries can ask your employer to pay for some or all of the compensation you may be owed when your employer may have partially caused the accident.

An example of this could be if your employer put you on improperly secured scaffolding without a safety harness, and another contractor moving supplies hit that scaffolding and caused you to fall to the ground and suffer paraplegia or quadriplegia.  When this happens, you would commence a third-party action against the third-party for knocking over the scaffolding and being negligent. However, the third-party would likely commence a separate lawsuit (a third-party action) against your employer on the grounds that your employer improperly secured the scaffolding and did not provide you with a harness.

Sounds complex?  That is because a third-party claim in a construction accident are very difficult and complex types of cases that must be handled by an experienced NYC construction accident lawyer like one of ours.

Were You Injured in a Construction Accident?  Always Call Us Right Away for Help

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a construction accident, allow our experienced NYC construction accident lawyers to review whether you may have a third-party claim in a construction accident to file.  We know what to look for and have a proven track-record of success handling these types of claims—especially serious or catastrophic construction accident cases resulting in permanent disability or wrongful death.

Our dedicated personal injury lawyers handle disabling and fatal construction accidents throughout the State of New York, particularly right here in Staten Island, Brooklyn, New York City, The Bronx, Queens, Long Island, and in surrounding areas.  Learn more about your rights to compensation by scheduling a FREE consultation with our lawyers by dialing (718) 948-3500 or using our “Contact Us” box available here