In New York, the law provides that persons hurt through the negligence of others can bring legal claims to recover their damages. In each case, there are legal requirements that must be met….but for someone who is working and then, as result of an accident, is then unable to work, this can be a life altering event personally and to the client’s family, not to mention the time and attention necessary to recover and the medical care and treatment required.
At my office, we often see clients whose lives are going along just fine and then, in one instant, everything changes. After a serious accident, clients want to know answers to such questions as:
How will I make up for my wage losses?
How will I pay for my medical care and treatment?
What will occur if I am unable to return to work?
Who will cover my future medical expenses?
What about my pain from the injuries I have?
What if I don’t recover and have lifelong injuries?
In my office, we examine every area of loss, financial and otherwise, and then develop a plan, within what the law provides, to answer these questions and compensate our clients for the losses they have incurred. If you have been involved in an accident involving an automobile, bus, motorcycle or truck and are seriously hurt, call me right away.
If you are injured while working, you may be entitled to wage and medical payments by coverage paid for by employers. This is known as basic workers compensation coverage. The idea is that you will not be able to bring a legal action against your employer for their negligence in the occurrence of your injuries. However, you will be able to collect for your medical care, lost wages and related expenses. You may even be entitled to a scheduled loss of use of a body organ or part and this may result in compensation to you.
On-the-job injuries may result from a fall from scaffolding, falls from ladders, machinery accidents, rollovers, bulldozer accidents, forklift claims, site work, heavy equipment claims, trench work, burn injuries, disfigurement, fractures, and injuries during construction work. Workers compensation injuries may also include operation of buses, trucks and autos, if you were in the scope of your employment, that is, on the job at the time of your injury.
Of course, any person who is considering workers compensation benefits should hire an attorney. The reason here is that insurance companies who provide workers compensation coverage all have attorneys or representatives working for them at hearings before the Workers Compensation Board. If you do not have an attorney or representative, you may not get all of the benefits you are entitled to or may find yourself cut off from benefits. Besides, attorneys representing injured clients before the Workers Compensation Board are paid from the award made, not from the injured worker. So, bottom line is that you should have an attorney.
Even though cannot make a legal claim in Court against your employer for the injuries you sustained, you can make a legal claim against other parties or companies who may be responsible for your injuries, other than your employer. Many clients to not understand this. So, if you are hurt on the job, you should consult with a workers compensation attorney and also an attorney who may consider taking what is known as a “third party claim” against firms, companies or others, not your employer, who may be responsible for your injuries.
As to NYS Workers Compensation, here is a summary and outline of benefits and requirements:
- Filing Claims: You must first report your injury to your employer. If you have lost time from work, you can file claim for compensation [Form C-3].
- Monetary Benefits: Unless disability extends beyond 14 days, cash benefits are not paid for the first 7 days of disability. If the injury resulted in death, the surviving spouse and children may be entitled to weekly cash benefits. Weekly benefits are calculated at 2/3 of the claimant’s average weekly wage multiplied by the percentage of disability. You may also be entitled to supplemental benefits and/or social security benefits.
- Medical Care: Compensation coverage usually pays for medical and hospital care including surgery and testing. Sometimes, prior authorization from the carrier or employer is required. No fees can be collected from the patient by the health care provider.
- Classifications of Disability: Cash benefits are paid in relationship to the following classifications: [a] temporary total disability; [b] temporary partial disability; [c] permanent total disability; [d] permanent partial disability and [e] disfigurement.
- Occupational Disease& Hearing Loss: Claims for diseases produced by the natural incident of a certain occupation must be made: 2 years from the date of disability or 2 years from the date the worker knew or should have known that the disease was from employment. There is a time limit here as well: 3 months from the date the worker is removed from the harmful noise on the job or 3 months after leaving employment where the damages were caused.
- Rehabilitation: You may be asked to participate in different types of rehab including: [a] vocational; [b] selective placement; [c] medical rehabilitation and [d] social services.
- Volunteer Firefighters & Ambulance Workers: There are similar coverages for these types of volunteers injured in line of duty.
- Timelines for Claims: The claimant must report the injury and then file a C-3 form with the Board. The treating doctor then submits a C-4 from and mails to the district office [within 48 hours]; the employer within 10 days files a C-2 form. Within 18 days of the receipt of the C-2 form, the insurer should begin payment of benefits.
- Hearings & Appeals: Hearings are held before Administrative Judges who may take testimony and review records. Appeals can be made by either side within 30 days of the decision of the Judge.
- District Offices: You may contact the District Administrator at the Albany Dist. Office, at 100 Broadway-Menands, Albany, NY 12241 for further information. Tel:  474-6674.
Many boat owners and operators fail to fully consider the ways in which someone can be hurt while boating. Surprisingly, it can happen quite often, particularly when operators consume alcohol or other substances which interfere with their reaction time and judgment. Here in the Hudson Valley we have the great resources of the Hudson River and many lakes and waterways. Boating safety and operation have been the concerns of many boating organizations and in particular, the US Coast Guard.
Boating accidents can result in fatalities. It appears that the major cause of death from boating accidents is alcohol use. Other factors involved in boating crashes are operator inattention, inexperience, speed and failure to keep a proper lookout. Also, many operators do not fully understand the rules pertaining to operational rights of way, particularly with the operation of sailboats and motorboats.
Safety courses are always a great idea when considering boating and your knowledge may just save your life. You can consider a boating safety course from many sources including the US Power Squadron or the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.
As with all accidents, prompt investigation and follow up are important factors on the successful outcome of your claim. Early contact with your attorney will help your success.
Jones Act Claims
Typically, if you are injured in the course of your employment, you will be barred from making a legal claim against your employer for its negligence causing your injury. This is generally covered by state workers compensation statutes.
However, if you are employed as a seaman and you are hurt in the course of your employment, you may be entitled to make a claim under the Jones Act [also known as the Merchant Marine Action of 1920]. This federal statute provides protection and a mechanism for injured seamen. It permits claims on the principle that a ship owner has an absolute and non-delegable duty to furnish a seaworthy ship and safe equipment to employed seamen. If injured, a seaman can make claims and collect from their employers for the negligence of the ship owner. Vessel owners have a duty to use reasonable care to maintain a reasonably safe place to work. Areas of protection include egress and access to a vessel; decks; slippery conditions such as grease and oil; docks and piers; engines and machinery; gangplanks and hatches. Seamen may also be entitled to “maintenance and cure” providing medical care and treatment.
There are time limits with all legal claims and here, the Jones Act claims carry a three year statute of limitations.
Here’s a link to further general information on Jones Act claims published by the Ohio State Bar Association:
If you are a seaman and injured in the course of your employment, you should consult with an attorney to see if the law applies to your specific injury and circumstances and to further be informed of your legal rights.
Living in the Hudson Valley, many residents commute to and from New York City for work. Most often, this requires use of Metro North Commuter Line to arrive at Grand Central. From there, commuters often take subways or buses operated by the MTA to get to their final destination.
Many clients are unaware that there are specific rules to be followed if they are hurt on a commuter train or on premises operated or controlled by the railroad or commuter lines. For the MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority], which owns and operates Metro North, clients must generally submit a written Notice of Claim within 90 days of the injury according to Public Authority Law Section 1276. Further, there is a shortened statute of limitations on commencement of action to one year and 90 days from the date of injury. Similarly, with the NYCTA [New York City Transit Authority], a Notice of Claim is required to be filed within 90 days under Public Authority Law Sec. 1212, also with a shortened statute of limitations.
It is important, therefore, for clients to consult early with their attorney so that information can be gathered on the injury, the reasons for the claim, witness information, premises conditions and other information that would be helpful to prosecution.
FELA & Railroad Workers
Unlike state laws that provide workers compensation for employees, railroad workers are covered under a different law known as the Federal Employers Liability Act, or FELA for short. For railroad workers who are hurt on the job, the law provides a mechanism of recovery.
The law is somewhat different from typical state workers compensation where the employer’s fault in the cause of the claim is not really an issue. However, under FELA claims, an injured employee has to prove that the railroad was negligent and that such negligence was the cause of the injuries to the railroad worker. Under the federal law, the railroad must provide a reasonably safe place to work, equipment, safety devices and tools. They are required to see that safety regulations and policy are enforced and to provide adequate training and supervision in employee duties. Further, they must see that the work areas are free from dangerous conditions and have other duties to the manner of work conducted by railroad workers.
Claims under FELA for railroad workers can include amounts for the costs of past and future medical treatment, wage loss and for pain and suffering.
If the injury results in death of a railroad worker, FELA provides a basis for claim by a surviving spouse and dependent children.
If you are injured in a railroad accident as an employee, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to review your claim and to determine what benefits and courses of action you may take under FELA.
From a lawyer’s viewpoint, the safest train grade crossing would be no crossing at all. Highway rail grade crossings are unsafe to both pedestrians and to vehicles. Most recently [Feb. 3, 2015], there was a train grade crossing accident in Valhalla, New York involving a six fatalities and 15 other persons injured. See information from the National Transportation Safety Board and findings:Click here
While grade crossing warning devices are helpful, they are not able to prevent all accidents. The stopping distance for trains, particularly those with a great number of cars and locomotive, is very long. Grade crossing safety improvements are needed at many intersections but not currently implemented. These safety improvements include updating existing active warning devices and signals at grade crossings, mitigating deficient crossings, improved warning systems for vehicles and pedestrians. Also helpful is community information programs about the dangers of on-grade train crossings.
New York State Department of Transportation publishes information on rail safety for grade crossings. This can be found at: Click Here
See also NTSB Safety Study: Click Here
Early investigation as to the main causes and contributing causes of highway-grade rail accidents is essential. Also important are the number to complaints given to the rail line prior to any crash or injury.
If you or someone you know is injured at a highway-rail grade crossing, either as pedestrian, vehicle driver or occupant, you should contact your attorney to obtain as much information as you can. Don’t wait……Early contact with an attorney is usually beneficial to clients.
Flying has become an integral part of life for most Americans, particularly those who want to get to a distance place in a short time. When we board a plane, we don’t usually give thought to all that is required for a safe flight. As to mechanics, the airplane itself has to be in good operating order. This means that all the parts of the plane, particularly those insuring safe take offs, flight and landing are in good and safe condition.
Parts of planes that take stress loads can develop metal fatigue over time and this can be very dangerous for flight safety. Here, it is vital that airlines perform required maintenance and inspection of planes to determine if there are any conditions that would threaten the safety of a flight. When we talk about flight, this means form the time that a passenger enters onto a plane, even while stationary at a gate or while taxiing to or from a runway. Faulty component parts can lead to cabin smoke and fires, all of which can be very dangerous to crew and passengers.
The shortage of pilots is another area of concern for flight safety. Proper training of new pilots is vital to the success of any airline.
However, airlines, like many other companies, are very interested in reduction of costs and business expenses. However, this effort at control of business costs in the field of airline inspection and maintenance could be very dangerous and cutting corners merely for cost control on correct regular maintenance, inspection, check-overs and review can be fatal.
These same concepts of airline and flying safety apply to helicopters as well. If you or a loved one has been injured in an airline accident or flight, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. This way, you can bring all the effort you need to determine what your legal options are and to take every step you can to protect your rights.
You only have a short amount of time before you lose your legal rights. Let’s talk about your case, and the best course of action.
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Note: The information contained herein is for general and non-specific informational purposes only as legal claims vary and is not to be considered or taken as legal counsel or advice. Only your lawyer can give you legal advice. If you have a legal question, you should consult with an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible
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