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New York City is constantly under construction, as any New Yorker will tell you. Scaffolds everywhere, sidewalks blocked off or rerouted, concrete barriers redirecting traffic and workers trying to do their jobs amid hazardous conditions. The price for all this constant renovation, unfortunately, is all-too-frequent workplace injuries. You probably know that you’re eligible for workers’ compensation after an accident on a job site. What you might not know is that you may be eligible for much more. 

Workers Compensation vs. Third-Party Lawsuits: A Primer

Construction accidents are initially covered under workers’ compensation. Say you’re on a job site. You’re cleaning up at the end of the day when suddenly there’s a fire, caused by the electrician’s faulty wiring. You’re badly burned and unable to return to work. In this case, you’d be eligible for workers’ compensation because the incident happened while you were doing your job.

However, because the electrician was a contractor and not an employee of the company, you could also bring what’s known as a “third-party” lawsuit, since the negligence fell partly outside your employer’s purview. This is especially common in construction accidents. Depending on the circumstances, the building owners, architects, equipment manufacturers and others could be liable for monetary damages. After all, general contractors and subcontractors are responsible for workplace safety as well. These settlements often far exceed the funds available through workers’ compensation, and can ensure that you receive the maximum amount allowed under the law.

Undocumented Workers And Off-The-Books Pay

Some workers worry that their legal status might impact their right to workers’ compensation or to bring a third-party lawsuit. It doesn’t. Everyone is entitled to these things under New York state law in the event of a workplace injury.

Even if you’re not a citizen of the United States, you can still receive workers’ compensation and sue third parties, if appropriate. The only thing you need to show is that you were working at the time of your injury. If that’s true, then you may have a case.

No one should have to contend with an unsafe workplace. If you’ve suffered an injury at work, you need to know your full range of options so that you can pursue them aggressively and with confidence. In the long run, that’s what will help you get back on your feet.