Every year, almost three million job-related injuries and illnesses are reported in the United States. As you might guess, construction is the most dangerous line of work, but even in a sedate office setting, you could sustain an unexpected, accidental, catastrophic injury.
If you are injured at work or if you become ill because of conditions at your place of work – seek medical treatment immediately, and then speak at once with an experienced Rochester workplace injury attorney.
How do work-related injuries differ from other personal injuries? If you are injured at your job, you are probably eligible for workers’ compensation payments. To receive workers’ comp benefits, injury victims do not have to take legal action or prove that an employer was negligent.
IS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION REALLY ENOUGH?
What does workers’ compensation provide to injured workers in New York? Is it sufficient? Do workplace injury victims have another option – that is, another potential source of compensation? In some cases, the answer to that last question will be yes, so keep reading.
Workers’ comp shields employers from personal injury lawsuits filed by employees, who automatically receive payments if they are injured on the job and can’t work. No one gets rich. Workers’ compensation benefits are barely enough to help injury victims meet basic obligations.
With very narrow exceptions, New York compels employers to have workers’ compensation coverage for both full-time employees and part-time employees.
WHAT DOES WORKERS’ COMP PROVIDE? WHO QUALIFIES?
If you’re injured at work in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall incident, for example, or if you are made ill by exposure to a toxic substance at work, your workers’ comp coverage should pay for your medical costs. Workers’ comp also replaces a percentage of the employee’s lost wages.
That wage replacement amount isn’t much. It replaces two-thirds of your average weekly pay (for the preceding year) if you are temporarily one hundred percent disabled, but if you are less than one hundred percent disabled, the benefits may be considerably reduced.
For example, if you earn $1000 weekly and you are temporarily one hundred percent disabled, your workers’ comp benefit is $667 a week, but if you are considered only fifty percent disabled, even if you can’t work, you will receive only $333 a week.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT WORKPLACE INJURIES?
To make things harder, in some instances, employers and insurance companies may challenge an injured employee’s claim for benefits by saying that the employee wasn’t really badly injured or that the employee was injured in some other place and time – but not at work.
Workplace accidents have this in common with other accidents; sometimes they’re catastrophic. Severe spinal cord damage or a traumatic brain injury may require costly, life-long medical care. These injury victims – and their families – will need more than workers’ comp benefits.
IS THERE ANOTHER OPTION FOR WORKPLACE INJURY VICTIMS?
If a third party had any role in causing your work-related injury, you may be able to obtain additional compensation through a third-party personal injury claim with the help of a reliable and skilled injury lawyer.
Your attorney will explain what the legal process entails and will suggest the most constructive way to move forward – which may be a third-party personal injury lawsuit.
How can a third party be liable for a work-related injury? Let’s say that you’re a delivery person who is injured by a negligent driver while you’re making deliveries. You’ll qualify for workers’ comp, but you may also pursue a personal injury action against the driver who injured you.
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS IF YOU’RE INJURED ON THE JOB?
Employees who are injured on the job in New York also may be able to bring legal actions in these kinds of circumstances:
- Employees injured by defective products may file a product liability claim against the product’s manufacturer.
- Employees injured by toxic substances may have grounds for a toxic tort claim against the substance’s manufacturer.
- Employees injured as the result of their employer’s intentionally malicious or exceedingly egregious behavior may – in very narrow circumstances – be able to bring a personal injury claim against the employer.
- When an employer has failed to purchase and maintain workers’ comp insurance coverage as New York law requires, an injured employee may proceed with legal action against the employer.
WHY IS A GOOD ATTORNEY’S ADVICE SO IMPERATIVE?
Workers’ compensation in New York does not pay for personal pain and suffering, pays no punitive damages, and does not hold employers responsible for hazardous workplace conditions. That’s why, if you are injured on the job, you must determine if a third party can be held liable.
You must have a good injury attorney’s advice from the start. While a lawsuit can offer more to a victim than workers’ comp provides, it also entails having to prove that a third party – or in rare cases, an employer – was negligent. Workers’ comp has no similar requirement.
Of course, an accident victim must seek medical attention immediately after being injured. Even if you don’t “feel” injured, you must be examined, because some injuries can stay undetected and latent for weeks after an accident – and then emerge as a serious health threat.
An immediate medical exam will create the medical records that you will need as evidence if you file a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party personal injury claim, or both.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A WORKPLACE INJURY LAW FIRM IN NY?
New York’s statute of limitations gives workplace injury victims three years from the injury date to take legal action. Do not wait three years – in fact, don’t wait three weeks – to consult an experienced Rochester workplace injury attorney. Do it at once.
How can you pay for an attorney’s help if you’re injured, can’t work, and the bills are mounting?
If you are a workplace injury victim in this state, your first consultation with an injury attorney is free. If you and your lawyer choose to move forward with a third-party personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer does not receive an attorney’s fee until you receive your compensation.
HOW MANY JOB-RELATED INJURIES HAPPEN IN OUR STATE?
The U.S. Department of Labor tells us that more than 139,000 work-related injuries and illnesses were reported by private sector employers in the state of New York in 2016.
A job-related injury or illness can befall anyone who works for a living. If it happens to you, get the legal help you need, pick up the phone, and arrange to meet with a New York workplace injury lawyer immediately.