Exclusive Remedy Rule – No Suing Your Employer!

When on-the-job accidents occur, thankfully, the New York Workers’ Compensation Law provides that injured workers are entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits to cover necessary medical treatment and lost wages reimbursement related to their on-the job accident. These important workers’ compensation benefits are provided through an insurance policy that the injured worker’s employer is required by law to purchase, and generally covers any injured worker for losses arising out of any on-the-job accident, regardless of whether or not the accident was caused by anybody’s negligence. However, these benefits are often insufficient to fully compensate an injured worker for what they have lost in an on-the-job accident, and workers often must seek compensation in a personal injury lawsuit if they are to have a prayer of obtaining full compensation for their injuries. In the context of on-the-job accidents, these types of personal injury lawsuits are known as “third-party negligence” lawsuits, and our Bronx accident lawyers focus on helping the injured throughout the Bronx and New York City obtain full compensation in these cases.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a construction accident, or any other type of on-the-job accident, our Bronx personal injury lawyers will analyze the circumstances of your case, and will help you bring a third-party negligence lawsuit against those that caused you harm. We offer free, no-fee-guarantee consultations and case evaluations if you call us today at (718) 354-8000. We will help you identify those who are responsible for your accident, and will hold them to account in court on your behalf if we accept your case.

Injured workers must be aware, however, that third-party negligence lawsuits are limited in scope when an on-the-job injury occurs. This is because, under the New York Workers’ Compensation Law, the injured worker is barred from suing their employer if they are hurt on the job. This immunity from liability in a personal injury lawsuit is mandated in the law in exchange for the requirement that employers provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage to their injured employees. However, any person or entity that is not considered to be an “employer” of the injured worker can be sued in a third-party personal injury lawsuit in which full compensation for the injured worker can be obtained. It is also important to know that, even though the employer may have been negligence in causing a Bronx personal injury accident, responsible third parties (e.g., owners and general contractors of a construction site in a “Scaffold Law” construction accident lawsuit) cannot seek indemnification or contribution from the employer unless the accident causes the injured accident victim to suffer a “grave injury” as defined under the New York Workers’ Compensation Law.

Why Can’t I sue my Employer if I am Injured on the Job due to my Employer’s Negligence?

First and foremost, injured workers should be aware that, in most cases, if they are injured due to the negligence of their employer, they cannot sue their employer because Section 29(6) of the New York Workers’ Compensation Law provides that workers’ compensation insurance benefits are the “exclusively remedy” for injured workers. The limited exceptions to this “exclusive remedy” rule include (i) where the employer fails to obtain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for an injured employee, (ii) where the employer intentionally injured an employee, and (iii) where the injured person happens to be an employee of the N.Y.P.D., F.D.N.Y., or the New York City Department of Sanitation (primarily because those New York City agencies are not legally required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees).

Section 11 of the New York Workers’ Compensation Law also bars third parties from suing an injured worker’s employer for contribution or contractual indemnification unless the employee has sustained a “grave injury” as defined by law. Proving a “grave injury”, and thus permitting the impleader of your employer for contribution and indemnification by the other defendants in your lawsuit, is very important to maximizing the available insurance coverage applicable to your case, which can make the difference between partial and full compensation.

In sum, this “exclusive remedy” rule generally prohibits an injured employee from suing their employer in a personal injury lawsuit, no matter how negligent the employer may have been in causing an accident. It is also important to know that this “exclusive remedy” rule trumps other rules of “vicarious liability”, such as the rule of joint and several liability applicable to car accidents under Section 388 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law.

Our expert Bronx personal injury lawyers have the experience and legal knowledge necessary to properly identify third parties apart from your employer who may be liable to you if you are injured. The identification of responsible third parties is often the difference between full compensation, and the limited compensation available under the Workers’ Compensation Law. We promise to pursue every available avenue to obtain compensation for you, and identify every responsible party regarding your accident, to ensure that you have the best possible chance of recovering the full value of your injuries if we accept your personal injury accident case. We will also ensure that, if you sustain a “grave injury”, your damages are properly proven so that the maximum amount of insurance coverage will be available to you in your personal injury lawsuit.

What if I am Injured by a Co-Employee Due to Their Negligence on the Job? Can I sue my Co-Employee?

The answer to this question is, unfortunately, generally “no”. The “exclusive remedy” rule of Section 29(6) of the New York Workers’ Compensation Law applies in the same manner to co-employees as it does to the employer itself. However, this also means that the very same exceptions to the “exclusive remedy” rule that limit the liability of employers also apply to co-employees. If you are injured by the negligence of a co-employee, contact our Bronx accident lawyers today at (718) 354-8000 to discuss whether an exception to the “exclusive remedy” rule may apply to your case.

What if I am an Independent Contractor? Am I Still Barred from Suing for Negligence if I am Injured?

The answer to this very important question, like so many answers to legal questions, is an unsatisfying “it depends”. Under the New York Workers’ Compensation Law, the “special employer/employee” doctrine provides that, if the conditions of an independent contractor’s meet a certain legal test, the independent contractor is considered a “special employee”, even if they are specifically designated as an “independent contractor” by contract, and cannot sue their employer in a personal injury lawsuit. This test looks to the following factors to determine whether or not the employee is a “special employee” barred from suing his or her employer for negligence: (i) the employer’s right to control the means and methods of the employee’s work, (ii) the character of the work being performed and whether it is substantially similar to work done by the employer’s actual salaried employees, (iii) the method of payment to the worker, (iv) whether the employer furnishes materials and supplies to the worker to perform his or her work, and (v) whether the employer has the right to hire and fire the employee at will.

Our expert Bronx accident lawyers will put their legal expertise to work for you to help you prove that you are not a “special employee” barred from suing your employer in a personal injury lawsuit if we accept your case. Contact us today at (718) 354-8000 to learn whether or not your case qualifies under the “special employee” doctrine, and thus whether you can sue your employer if you were injured on the job as an independent contractor.

Contact our Bronx Work Accident Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation

Our Bronx personal injury lawyers have the experience, legal expertise, investigative skills and tenacity necessary to help you obtain maximum compensation if you are injured in an on-the-job work accident. Our attorneys are at the top of their field, many having graduated from top-twenty law schools, and our team has among the best track records in the personal injury field. We promise to dedicate the proper resources, time and personal attention to every case that we accept because we believe that our clients deserve nothing less. Contact us today at (718) 354-8000 for a free, no-risk consultation to discuss your rights if you are injured anywhere in the Bronx or elsewhere in New York City.

Client Testimonials
★★★★★
When I got hurt after falling on a scaffold on a construction site, I could not work in construction anymore and did not know how I could support my family. I turned to Jesse Minc and I am very happy that I met him. He also discusses my case in Spanish with me when I want to, and that always made me feel comfortable. I believe that he is the best lawyer in New York City and I would recommend him to anybody who is injured.
★★★★★
After I was very badly hurt in a construction accident and could not work anymore, I turned to Jesse Minc. I have had a lot of lawyers over the years, but he is the best I ever had. Because I was a member of Local 6A Concrete Workers Union, I lost a lot of benefits, my pension and income when I got hurt and he made sure I understood how I could recover what I had lost. He and his team have been a Godsend to me and my family, and I am so glad that I chose him to represent us. Luke Rosa, Bronx, New York
★★★★★
My experience with Jesse Minc's firm was very rewarding. I personally dealt with Jesse Minc, who was a class act as my lawyer. He was always on call with any questions or help I needed in the process of my lawsuit. Jesse recovered a high six figure sum for a slip and fall accident I endured. He got the case settled in a reasonable time. If you are in need of lawyers for a lawsuit in New York City I highly recommend Jesse Minc's firm, they got me a very high settlement and were there for me personally every step of the way. Thanks to all the lawyers and staff. Salvador Ruiz, Brooklyn, New York
★★★★★
When I got hurt on a construction site and could not work anymore, one of my brothers from the Concrete Workers Local 6A union recommended Jesse Minc to be my lawyer and I am very happy I picked him to represent me. He really does have the human touch that a lot of lawyers lack. I would recommend Jesse Minc to anyone injured in a construction accident because he will fight to the end of the earth for his clients. Joseph Toro, Bronx, New York