One of the trade-offs inherent to workers’ compensation is the fact that injured workers may not sue their employers. The issue of “fault” doesn’t come into most workers’ compensation cases, and most employees receive medical coverage and a portion of their lost wages. There is no ability to sue for pain and suffering.
Yet, as any worker who has gone through the process will tell you, workers’ compensation does not always cover all of the worker’s expenses. This is why, any time a third party is involved in an accident, many workers will seek to launch a third-party personal injury lawsuit alongside their workers’ compensation lawsuit.
This can happen when the worker is a driver who got into an accident with another third-party driver while on the job or in construction, which involves multiple third parties in the process.
For the most part, that third party’s insurer must absorb the costs without requiring reimbursement from the employer. Workers’ Compensation Law 11 is the exception to this rule.
This law is also known as the “Alternative remedy” law.
“An employer shall not be liable for contribution or indemnity to any third person based on liability for injuries sustained by an employee acting within the scope of his or her employment for such employer unless such third person proves through competent medical evidence that such employee has suffered a “grave injury.”
A “grave” injury means:
- Employee death
- Permanent and total loss of use or amputation of an arm, leg, hand, or foot
- Loss of multiple fingers
- Loss of multiple toes
- Paraplegia or quadraplegia
- Total and permanent blindness
- Loss of a nose
- Loss of an ear
- Loss of an index finger
- Severe and permanent facial disfigurement
- Brain injury resulting in total disability
The law also says that an employer is not immune at all if the employer fails to seek workers’ compensation coverage in the first place or allows coverage to lapse and may therefore be held liable in a personal injury suit just like any other liable party.
Mostly, this law does not impact an injured employee directly. The injured employee takes their payout and lets the two big corporations have their own battle over who pays for it. Nevertheless, an injured employee may be required to testify about their experience to the benefit of one party or the other.
However, the specter of Workers’ Compensation Law 11 could spur employers or workers’ compensation insurers to deny, delay, and downplay injuries more than they would normally, all in the hopes of avoiding this extra expense.
If you are struggling with a workers’ compensation claim or have any additional questions about how complex laws may impact your case, contact us. We’re experienced New York workers’ compensation lawyers who will be happy to help you navigate your case and bring it its best possible outcome. We can also help with any third-party personal injury claim that might arise.