Worker’s Compensation Third-Party Actions

There are many instances of workers being harmed at their place of employment through no fault of their own or their employers. Sometimes the negligence or cause of the injury may be from the negligence of a third party. For example, a construction worker may have to travel between job sites in the middle of the work day, on the direct order of an employer. During the trip the employee does not take a detour or go on a lunch break of any sort. During that trip the employee is involved in a major auto accident caused wholly by the negligence of a third party. The legal structure of worker’s compensation ensures that the employee will receive income during the time that he or she can not work due to injuries that they suffered.


The issue of liability is rarely an issue in workers compensation cases, which is a significant boon to the employee. The tradeoff is that the employer, or more properly their worker’s compensation insurance carrier, will have less to pay out, in that the employee’s damages are limited to lost wages and medical costs associated with the injury in issue. In the example above, the employee would not receive any sort of recompense for the pain and suffering associated with recovery from the accident. If the accident was a major one involving long-term treatment, the pain and suffering could be significant. That is where an independent case is lodged against the third party by the employee.


Third party cases can be complicated by many moving parts. The statute of limitation does not toll or freeze during the pendency of the worker’s compensation case. More importantly, worker’s compensation insurance carriers are entitled to a lien against any proceeds recovered by the injured party. Furthermore, under certain circumstances, if the injured party recovers more than the lien, the worker’s compensation carrier may be entitled to a holiday on their payments for future wages that it would normally pay as a result of their workers compensation settlement or verdict. Finally, worker’s compensation carriers often have the right to object or approve any settlement between the injured party and the third party. Consequently, attorneys who represent plaintiffs in personal injury cases when there is a workers compensation carrier’s lien have to be extraordinarily tenacious and forward-thinking to ensure any recovery will result in an actual net gain for the injured party, after considering the lien and any potential worker’s compensation holiday.


If you or a loved one were harmed at work and do not believe that you were made whole or fully compensated by the workers compensation case, you may be able to pursue an additional case against a third party to cover what your workers compensation case does not. The attorneys of Napoli, Shkolnik, PLLC have the experience and tenacity to see to it that you are compensated to the fullest extent available under the law. You can our online contact information form and someone will reach out to you about your case or you can call us directly at 212-397-1000.