In New York, the workers’ compensation law pays benefits to workers injured on the job, but it does not provide compensation for pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation laws can basically be thought of as income protection laws. An injured employee receives benefits because of his or her inability to work.
As part of typical workers’ compensation from the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, injured employees are entitled to weekly compensation, permanent impairment benefits, payment of medical bills and vocational rehabilitation.
If pain prevents the employee from returning to work or prevents the employee from making the same wages as before the accident, then he-she will receive weekly compensation. The employee will not receive additional compensation for pain and suffering.
However, a worker may be able to receive additional compensation if a third party is found to be responsible for the work-related injury. This compensation may include compensation for pain and suffering, as well as other non-economic damages like loss of enjoyment of life. A third party is someone other than the employer and many include an independent contractor, a co-worker, or even the manufacturer of the equipment that caused the injury. To recover damages from a third party for their negligence in causing the injury, a separate negligence lawsuit against the third party will need to be filed.
In a personal injury case, pain and suffering are a typical part of the claims process. Situations in which an employee may be able to sue for damages caused by injuries, include:
- Injury by a defective product
- Injury by a toxic substance
- Injury by a third party
- Injury caused by an employer’s intentional or egregious conduct
Under New York’s Labor Laws 240 and 241, construction workers injured as a result of safety violations, falls from scaffolds, or other elevation-related accidents may receive workers’ compensation plus damages from third-party contractors that had responsibility for the safety of the workers. In such cases, there is often strict liability for damages. That means a worker does not have to prove the third party was at fault (negligent) in an accident.
Any time a serious injury occurs while at work, it is advisable to talk to a lawyer with experience with workers’ compensation.