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When can workers sue for personal injury?

The workers' compensation system takes the place of civil lawsuits against employers. In exchange for free medical care and replacement of lost wages, workers cannot sue the company they work for if they are injured on the job.

But it's fair game to sue other companies or other individuals who caused or contributed to a workplace accident. This is called third party liability. When might you have a personal injury case for a work-related injury?

Third party liability for construction accidents

The construction trades are high-risk occupations. Working above ground is especially hazardous because of the risk of serious falls from ladders and scaffolding. In the event of a bad construction accident, workers' compensation has its limitations. Employers and insurers control which doctors you see and which medical treatments they will pay for. You may not be fully reimbursed for the long-term effects, especially if it prevents you from working.

A personal injury lawsuit allows you recover full damages for loss of future earnings, for ongoing medical care, and damages for pain and suffering.

You can't sue your co-worker, your boss or the company that employees you. But you can bring a personal injury claim against any third party who is not in your chain of employment. Here are examples of third party liability common in construction work:

  • A property owner who created a hazardous condition at a job site
  • A subcontractor on the same work site who caused an accident
  • A utility company that neglected to de-energize power lines
  • A manufacturer of defective machinery, equipment or safety gear
  • A motorist who caused a traffic crash on the way to the job site

Third party liability applies in all types of jobs

Physical labor jobs like construction, roofing, remodeling and landscaping are high risk. But you could have a third-party lawsuit for any workplace injury. A personal injury attorney can assess your situation - most provide a free consultation - to determine if you have claims beyond workers' comp. It could be a premises liability claim, a product liability case or a straight negligence claim.

It is possible to have both a workers' compensation claim through one's employer and a separate personal injury case against another entity. In either case, filing injury claims should not threaten your employment status. Retaliation is illegal and opens the employer to civil lawsuits.

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66 Sunset Strip
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Succasunna, NJ 07876

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