An on-the-job injury can occur in any workplace. Although acute injuries are more likely to occur at construction sites, factories and other jobs involving machinery and equipment, even office workers face some injury risks.
What are your options after being involved in a construction accident or other workplace injury? If your employer has workers’ compensation insurance coverage (as most New Jersey employers are required to have), your compensation options are essentially limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim. But in certain circumstances, you can also pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent third party that caused or contributed to the on-the-job injury.
Workers’ compensation is an ‘exclusive remedy’
New Jersey workers’ compensation laws generally prohibit injured workers from suing their employers (in exchange for having access to workers’ compensation insurance). That’s why workers’ compensation is often referred to as the “exclusive remedy” to workplace injuries.
But even though you cannot sue your employer, you can pursue a third-party liability claim against anyone outside the business that may have been involved in your injuries.
Examples of third-party liability claims
Let’s say that you work as a commercial driver for a delivery company. While driving your route one day, you are struck by a drunk driver and seriously injured. Because you were hurt on the job, you can seek workers’ compensation benefits through your employer’s policy. But you can also file a separate personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver who struck your vehicle.
As another example, consider being employed as a construction worker. While operating a recently purchased pneumatic nail gun one day, the device’s trigger safety fails and shoots a nail through your hand. A little investigation reveals that this is a known manufacturing defect with the nail gun. You can file a workers’ compensation claim. But you can also sue the nail gun manufacturer for product liability.
Why you should contact an experienced lawyer
If you are only filing a workers’ compensation claim (without a third-party liability suit), you don’t legally need attorney representation. But hiring one is in your best interests. If workers’ compensation is your sole option for recovery, working with your own attorney could significantly increase the chances that your claim is approved right away or approved on appeal.
If a third-party liability claim is a possibility, you will need an attorney’s help with this. And hiring an experienced workers’ comp/personal injury attorney can help you better understand all of your rights and legal options.
After being injured on the job, please don’t take chances with your financial recovery. Discuss your case with a skilled lawyer in your area.