New York has a workers’ compensation insurance program and its workers, like those in other states across the country, have reason to be glad for them.

But states design workers’ comp mainly for fairly simple cases of getting workers medical care so they can get back on the job and feed their family without much financial trouble.

For serious injuries where several people or companies share some blame, workers’ comp has serious limits. In such cases, a “third party” claim might be the right addition to the basic workers’ compensation claim.

Who is a third party?

More than one person is often responsible for workers being severely injured. Among many others, they might be:

  • A landowner who allows dangerous conditions when you are working (maybe malfunctioning elevators or smoke detectors, bad lighting or broken stairs, or a vicious dog).
  • A motorist who crashes into your work vehicle.
  • A security business who fails to protect people on the property.
  • An equipment company whose machine malfunctions, cutting, electrocuting, or hitting workers with debris.

In these cases, the issue is not between you and your employer, it is with a third party.

What can a claim against third-party add to worker’s comp?

Workers’ comp tries to keep employers in business and employing people, as well as healthy workers earning a living by doing things society needs doing. To get all this done, workers’ comp makes compromises.

Workers’ comp does not allow claims for pain and suffering, which is a way to hold wrongdoers accountable for the agony they cause as well as for financial losses.

The big awards that sometimes come from lawsuits for defective and dangerous products also help make the world a safer place.

They force companies, for example, to “cover their behind” by making sure they sell safe products, build safe buildings, use non-toxic materials, etc. Workers’ compensation systems are not always as good at getting these results.

Why call an attorney?

The state worker’s compensation system legally cannot act as your attorney on a third-party lawsuit in civil court.

Even if they could, that system is not always designed for many careful investigations that quickly and aggressively answer complex questions about fault and responsibility. When there are multiple companies and individuals to investigate and hold accountable, the state workers’ comp system would not be the right tool for the job.