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NYC construction accidents: Is workers' comp enough?

Construction is hard, dangerous work that requires a great deal of courage. The recent string of catastrophic accidents on New York City job sites serves as a reminder that construction work is not for the faint of heart.

When a worker is injured on the job, his or her employer's workers' compensation insurance can kick in to cover certain medical expenses and make up for a portion of his or her lost wages. But, are these benefits significant enough for the injured worker and his or her family? In many cases, they aren't -- not by a long shot.

The problem with workers' compensation

Workers' compensation benefits are important, but in many cases they can't cover everything an injured worker has lost -- like their full income, not to mention future medical needs and the pain and suffering endured by them and their families. Also, workers' comp usually has an expiration date, with benefits that expire, in general, after a certain amount of time.

A third-party claim, sometimes referred to as a personal injury lawsuit or injury claim, can go much deeper than workers' comp benefits. When an attorney represents an injured or deceased worker in a third-party lawsuit, they may be able to obtain:

  • Money damages related to the negligence of a contractor, property owner or other party
  • Significant compensation for proper medical treatment now and well into the future, if necessary
  • A settlement or judgment that brings closure to the victim and/or his or her family
  • Much-needed financial security for the spouse and children of an injured or deceased worker

Covering all your bases

Some construction workers may not understand how serious and potentially long-lasting their injuries are. This misjudgment can lead to a workers' comp settlement that is simply too small -- which means that important compensation opportunities may be missed. In addition, it is important to remember that a workers' comp settlement can impact a potential third-party claim, which is why you need to be fully aware of your legal options.

If you or one of your family members was hurt while working construction, it is wise to cover all your bases by talking with an attorney, as soon as possible, about whether pursuing a third-party claim is an appropriate move. You may discover that you are entitled to much more than what workers' compensation benefits can provide.

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