The limitations of workers' compensation benefits often fail to cover the full extent of physical and mental damages sustained. Nevertheless, victims of workplace accidents may have claims against third-parties, which would allow them to collect additional amounts outside the restrictions of workers' compensation.
Third-party liability claims are made against people or makers of products that had a part in an accident and are not part of your employing company. In New York State, an employee who is injured on the job cannot sue his or her employer for pain and suffering or other damages relating to the injury. Rather, workers' compensation benefits are deemed to the "exclusive remedy" against the employer for work related physical injury. The obvious problem this creates for the injured worker is illustrated by the following example:
An office employee is badly injured when the building's elevator malfunctions and closes on his foot. The employee cannot sue his employer, even if it turns out that the employer knew there was a problem with the elevator door and did not inform his employees or attempt to have it fixed in a timely manner. The employee will receive no payment from his employer beyond the workers' compensation.
However, this employee may consider a liability claim against the manufacturer of the faulty elevator.
Workers' compensation is a good system, but pre-imposed limitations mean you may receive much less than the full extent of your injuries or damages from your employer. In these cases, it is important to remember that indirect sources may have contributed to the mishap and, if that is the case, you may be entitled to additional compensation from third-parties.