Accident and Injury Frequently Asked Questions

Many accident victims are overwhelmed by their injuries, and the thought of a legal case can seem daunting. At Hofmann & Schweitzer, our legal team understands these feelings, and we’ve compiled our thoughts on many common worries here to help you get started finding the answers you need to protect yourself and your family. If you’ve been hurt in a construction, maritime, or railroad accident, browse our FAQs today.

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  • I am a dockbuilder and was injured on the job. What should I do?

    Dock Worker Before Suffering a Maritime InjuryMaritime work can take place at sea and on shore, and employees injured in maritime construction may be protected under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). However, pursuing these claims can be a long and complex process, and dockbuilders who do not take steps immediately after an injury may be underpaid for their medical costs and income losses.

    Steps to Take Immediately After a Maritime Injury

    If your injury requires emergency care, the first thing you should do is to attend to your immediate medical needs. While you are waiting for an ambulance or for a coworker to drive you to the hospital, take photographs of the injury site with your cell phone—including any witnesses at the scene. This will help you recall the conditions that led to your injury, as well as the names of people present who can be called as witnesses.

    After your injuries have been stabilized, it is vital that you:

    • Report your accident. Your employer must submit an incident report before you can collect benefits, and if you don’t fill it out, somebody else will. If you complete the report, you can record your version of events and ensure that the report is accurate. You should also request a copy of the accident report for your own records.
    • See a doctor. There are many good reasons to follow up with a doctor after a work injury. First, it creates a consistent medical record of your condition from the time of the injury to the present day. Second, it demonstrates that you are a conscientious employee who has done everything that a reasonable person would do after an accident. Third, it is the best way to protect your health and your recovery, since immediate intervention is the most effective treatment for a wide range of injuries.
    • Call the law firm of Hofmann & Schweitzer. If you have suffered from a maritime injury, we encourage you to find out more about your rights to see who may owe you compensation for your recovery. Our attorneys can examine the details of your case and begin working to build a strong injury claim.

    Contact one of our New York and New Jersey maritime accident attorneys today via our online contact form, or call us at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY. For more information on your case, be sure to download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

     

  • Is the settlement that I am being offered for my New York construction accident injuries fair?

    Injured Worker Talking to His Lawyer After a Construction AccidentOne of the biggest problems construction workers face when accepting a settlement is knowing whether the amount offered is enough to cover all of their losses. Unfortunately, once you accept a settlement, it is likely binding—meaning you won’t be able to recover additional money for the same injuries in the future. For this reason, it is important to know how much of your accident costs will be covered in the settlement offer before accepting it.

    Costs That Should Be Included in a Construction Injury Settlement

    Much like injury costs, settlement offers can vary widely based on the specific facts of each construction accident case. However, there are a few basic costs and losses that should be included in the majority of accident cases.

    Before you accept a settlement, you should consider whether it compensates you for:

    • Past medical expenses. At the very least, a settlement offer should provide payment for all of the medical treatment that you have undergone as a result of the injury. This includes surgery, medications, rehabilitation, and assistive medical devices.
    • Future medical expenses. If your injury is likely to require additional treatment in the future, your settlement should account for this anticipated cost.
    • Lost income. A settlement should cover any lost time from work resulting from the accident. If your injury has resulted in a loss of future income, you may need to provide estimates of the loss to get payment.
    • Disability. Permanent injuries are much harder to qualify than injuries that have fully healed. Disability costs can range from lost future income to pain and suffering and lost enjoyment of life—all factors that are difficult to assign a dollar value.
    • Other damages. Any other losses or out-of-pocket costs resulting from your construction accident injury should be itemized and totaled so that the insurer can include them in the settlement.

    If you have been injured in a construction accident, you don’t have to make this important decision alone. Our experienced construction injury attorneys can help you decide whether or not to accept a settlement, and we do not charge for our services until after we secure payment for you. We encourage you to contact us directly at 1-800-362-9329 and to read a FREE copy of our pamphlet, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.

     

  • What are “navigable” waters?

    Navigable WatersThe Jones Act considers "navigable waters" to be any waterways that are capable of being used for interstate or foreign commerce. In order for a maritime worker to be considered a Jones Act seaman, he or she must spend over 30 percent of work time in the service of a vessel on a navigable waterway. If your injury took place in an area that does not meet the technical definition of “navigable waterways,” your Jones Act injury benefits may be denied.

    Types of Navigable Waterways Under the Jones Act

    The term “navigable waterways” is generally accepted to be any body of water that can be used for interstate or international transport of goods or passengers. Oceans, seas, and all waterways that are connected directly to them are considered to be navigable waters, as is the Gulf of Mexico and other large bodies of water. However, landlocked lakes may also qualify as navigable if they border more than one state or are connected to a river that flows into another state.

    Nearly any type of waterway could potentially be considered “navigable,” including:

    • Rivers
    • Lakes
    • Harbors
    • Wetlands
    • Streams
    • Mudflats
    • Beaches and banks of any of the above

    It is important to note that the vessel does not have to be actively engaged in operations or even in motion for an injury to be covered under the Jones Act. A ship that has been docked in a navigable harbor for routine maintenance may still be considered “in navigation,” and any worker who is injured onboard should be eligible for Jones Act injury compensation.

    We're Here to Help!

    If you have suffered from a maritime injury, we encourage you to find out more about your rights to see who may owe you compensation for your recovery. Contact one of our New York and New Jersey maritime accident attorneys today via our online contact form, or call us at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY. For more information on your case, be sure to download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

     

  • What can be considered a vessel under the Jones Act?

    Fishing Boat in the Middle of the Ocean Hofmann & SchweitzerMaritime work takes place in a variety of environments, and injuries can occur both at sea and on shore. Fortunately, employees who qualify as Jones Act seamen can collect payment for an injury regardless of where the accident occurred as long as they were performing duties related to their vessel. However, in order for the maritime worker to be considered a Jones Act seaman, the ship that an employee is assigned to will have to meet the legal definition of “vessel.”

    Vessels Recognized Under the Jones Act

    Since the precise definition of “Jones Act vessel” could be a deciding factor in whether your Jones Act injury benefits are approved or denied, it is vital to seek a maritime injury attorney’s help at the outset of your case. An attorney can examine the type of watercraft, your role as a crew member, and the nature of the injury to determine exactly who is to blame for the accident and how much you may be owed.

    To qualify for benefits under the Jones Act, a crew member’s vessel must be:

    Owned by an American company or individual. 

    The Jones Act is a U.S. federal law, and will only apply to vessels subject to U.S. government regulation.

    Operated in navigable waters.

    The Jones Act has a federal jurisdiction, meaning vessels that travel between areas of interstate or international commerce.

    Used to transport goods or passengers.

    In 2005, the Supreme Court clarified the definition of the word “vessel” under the Jones Act as, "watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.” Some common examples of vessels include fishing boats, ferries, barges cruise ships, tankers, freighters, tugboats, and cargo ships.

    Capable of movement.

    In the past, unpowered floating structures were exempt from Jones Act status, but the 2005 Supreme Court decision removed the requirement that a vessel be self-propelled. Under the new rules, offshore drilling platforms, dredges, docks, jack-up rigs, semi-submersible rigs, and floating work platforms or dormitories could now be considered Jones Act vessels.

    Have You Been Injured In A Maritime Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a maritime accident you need to speak with an experienced maritime attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free consultation.

    You can also download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights today.

     

  • What is a Sieracki seaman?

    Worker on a Ship by the Water Hofmann and SchweitzerMaritime laws include two specific workers’ compensation and injury statues: one to protect those who work on vessels, and one to protect those who work on land near water. Sieracki seamen are employees who perform maritime work, but do not meet benefit qualifications under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) or Jones Act.

    Could I Be a Sieracki Seaman?

    Any employee who is injured while aboard a vessel in navigable waters could have a potential maritime injury claim—whether he or she is a Jones Act seaman, Sieracki seaman, or is subject to the LHWCA. Since there are a variety of state and federal laws that may apply in your case, it is best to seek the advice of a maritime injury attorney to get the full amount of compensation you are owed.

    You may be owed Sieracki seamen’s benefits if you:

    Were injured due to a safety violation or defect of the ship.

    The term "Sieracki seaman" was coined after a legal case (Seas Shipping Co. v. Sieracki) in which a seaman’s warranty of seaworthiness was extended to longshoremen injured aboard vessels. Although the LHWCA now excludes longshoreman from being designated as Sieracki seaman, other employees still retain the right to sue for injuries caused by unseaworthiness and negligence under general maritime law.

    Perform a necessary function of the ship.

    Courts have maintained that workers who perform a function essential to maritime service aboard are owed the warranty of seaworthiness, even if they are not covered by the LHWCA or other federal law. 

    Perform work on a location other than a ship.

    Seaman are required to spend 30 percent or more of their work time on a vessel or fleet of vessels in order to be eligible for Jones Act benefits. However, harbor pilots, stevedores, mechanics, welders, and other workers who do not have a permanent connection to one vessel may qualify as Sieracki seaman.

    Are the spouse of a worker claiming Sieracki-seaman status.

    The spouse of a Sieracki-seaman status may be able to recover for loss of consortium, loss of society, and other damages in a wrongful death case.

    Have You Been injured In A Maritime Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a maritime accident you need to speak with an experienced maritime attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free consultation.

    For more information on your case, be sure to download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

     

  • What if I was injured in New York City but live in a different state?

    Two Construction Workers Walking Down a New York City Sidewalk Hofmann & SchweitzerOne of the first things you should do after receiving medical attention for your injury is to file a workers’ compensation claim. This can be done either in the state where the accident occurred, or in the state where you live if you commute to work from outside New York City. However, the state in which you file a workers’ compensation claim can have a huge impact on your construction injury case, so you should not make this decision lightly.

    Benefits of Filing Your Construction Injury Case in New York

    As each state is allowed to create its own workers’ compensation laws, the amount and duration of workers’ compensation benefits can vary widely from state to state. If you live in one state but are injured in another, you can choose which location (called jurisdiction) to file your claim.

    There are many reasons New York City construction workers should consider filing their claims in New York, including:

    Right to sue employer.

    In most states, workers’ compensation claimants are barred from suing an employer under the exclusive remedy doctrine. However, New York laws allow some employers to be sued in work injury lawsuits.

    State labor laws.

    New York State Labor Laws 240, 241, and 200 provide grounds for construction accident victims to sue the general contractor and worksite owner for injuries caused by negligence. These laws can be applied to union and non-union employees, and out-of-state employees, day laborers, and even illegal immigrants.

    Third-party lawsuits.

    If a worker is seriously injured to the negligence of a third party, he or she can file a construction accident lawsuit in addition to collecting workers’ compensation.

    Right to file additional claims.

    Employees can file for workers’ compensation in their home states and in the state where the injury occurred. However, typically one state will pay up to its benefit limits before the other will agree to make up the difference.

    Have You Been Injured While Working On A Construction Site?

    If you've been hurt while working at your construction job you need to speak with an experienced construction accident attorney as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our New York City law office directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free consultation.

    You can also read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.

     

  • Who is covered under the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act?

    Oil Rig at Sea Hofmann and SchweitzerThere are many extensions to maritime law that provide compensation to maritime employees injured on land. One such law is the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act, commonly known as OCSLA, which allows non-seamen who work on submerged lands under U.S. jurisdiction to be covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA). Maritime employees whose work is primarily offshore (such as oil rig workers) are covered by OCSLA, making them eligible for benefits regardless of who is at fault for the injury.  

    Benefits Provided to Employees Under OCSLA

    Under the OCSLA, federal jurisdiction is extended to “the subsoil and seabed of the outer Continental Shelf and to all artificial islands, and all installations and other devices permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed… for the purpose of exploring, developing, or producing resources therefrom, or any such installation or other device (other than a ship or vessel) for the purpose of transporting such resources.” This allows injuries in these cases to fall under federal statutes (such as OCSLA and LHWCA) rather than state workers’ compensation programs.

    Injury Benefits Under The OCSLA

    Medical care.

    Employees who are eligible for OCSLA benefits may be reimbursed for doctor’s visits, surgeries, hospital stays, medications, physical therapy, assistive devices and equipment, and specialist care arising from a work-related injury.

    Disability payments.

    If your injury is so severe that you cannot work, you may be eligible for partial or total disability payments.

    Vocational rehabilitation.

    If you are unable to return to your previous position as a result of an injury, you could be eligible for employment counseling, vocational testing, and job retraining through the U.S. Department of Labor.

    Death benefits.

    If an employee is covered under the OCSLA and dies as a result of a work-related injury, his or her children and surviving spouse are eligible for death benefits as well as up to $3,000 for funeral and burial expenses.

    If you have suffered from a maritime injury, we encourage you to find out more about your rights to see who may owe you compensation for your recovery. Contact one of our New York and New Jersey maritime accident attorneys today via our online contact form, or call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY and let an experienced maritime injury lawyer provide you with an opinion about how much your maritime injury case is worth. For more information on your case, be sure to download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

     

  • What is the Admiralty Extension Act?

    Ships at a Busy New York Dock Hofmann and SchweitzerMaritime laws were created to allow injured workers to recover payment for lost wages and medical bills after an accident at sea. However, when they were first enacted, these laws only applied to accidents and injuries outside of the bounds of state borders. As a result, maritime employees who were hurt on land would only be able to recover compensation under that state’s injury laws. In 1948, admiralty jurisdiction was extended, protecting all maritime employees regardless of where their injuries occurred.

    How the Admiralty Extension Act Benefits Your Maritime Injury Case

    The Admiralty Extension Act (AEA) of 1948 brought admiralty and maritime jurisdiction inland, allowing the federal laws to include cases where damage on land is caused by a vessel on navigable water. Victims who suffer property damage or injuries due to a ship’s contact with land or objects near the shore have a right to bring claims under admiralty law, as do maritime employees injured on land by their vessel (or some appurtenance of the vessel).

    The AEA ensures that maritime injury laws extend to employees who are:

    • Injured on land while working near their vessels
    • Injured after a ship on navigable waters caused damage onshore
    • Hurt as a result of a vessel colliding with land or a land-based structure
    • Injured while performing work on bridges and piers
    • Injured during the loading, unloading, or storage of vessel cargo

    If you have suffered from a maritime injury, we encourage you to find out more about your rights to see who may owe you compensation for your recovery. Contact one of our New York and New Jersey maritime accident attorneys today via our online contact form, or call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY and let an experienced maritime injury lawyer provide you with an opinion about how much your maritime injury case is worth. For more information on your case, be sure to download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

     

  • When is a construction worker’s car accident considered a work injury?

    A car accident can result in many complications that can keep construction workers off the job for months, including broken bones, traumatic brain injury, joint damage, neck and back injuries, or spinal cord injuries that can result in paraplegia or quadriplegia. If you were involved in a crash while in the service of your employer, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for medical costs and lost wages resulting from the accident.

    Construction Worker With an Orange Cone on the Side of the Road Hofmann & Schweitzer.

    Common Causes of Work-Related Car Accidents in the Construction Industry

    Employers will only provide workers’ compensation benefits for vehicle accidents that are “work-related,” but the definition of work-related can vary from workplace to workplace. Although any injury sustained at the work location is often covered, employees also qualify if they are injured during work-related travel or if they are away from the job site in order to do a task that benefits the employer.

    Employees may be able to collect workers’ compensation for a construction motor vehicle crash if they were:

    Hit By A Car While Working 

    If a driver strikes a worker who is standing near the roadway, the injured employee can not only collect workers’ compensation, but may also be entitled to file a lawsuit against the driver for pain and suffering damages.

    Driving A Company Vehicle 

    An employee who is driving a delivery van, truck, bulldozer, or other vehicle may collect compensation when these vehicles are involved in an accident. In addition, the worker may file a third-party lawsuit if the injury was caused by poor vehicle maintenance or defective parts.

    Struck By A Company Vehicle 

    If an employee is struck by a co-worker who is operating a car, truck, dump truck, or other heavy equipment moving in and out of the construction zone, his or her injuries would be covered by workers’ compensation.

    Performing Tasks For An Employer Or Co-Worker 

    Workers may be denied benefits if they are injured when they are “off the clock,” such during lunch breaks or while traveling to and from work. However, there may be an exception for off-the-clock injuries if the injured worker was running errands for an employer, such as picking up coffee and bagels for the whole team before work, or dropping off a package for the employer on a lunch break.

    Traveling Between Sites 

    Employees may be covered if they were asked to drive their own vehicles to pick up additional construction materials, shuttle co-workers to the owner’s other work sites, make work-related deliveries, or bring clients to view a property.

    Have You Been Injured While Working On A Construction Site?

    If you've been hurt while working at your construction job you need to speak with an experienced construction accident attorney as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our New York City law office directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free consultation.

    You can also read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.

     

  • What is my maritime injury case worth?

    Lawyer Calculating Compensation in a Maritime Injury CaseThis is often one of the first questions that our clients ask us. Whether they are injured maritime workers or they have lost a loved one in a maritime accident, the people who come to us want an end to their financial and emotional burdens and proper payment for their pain and suffering.

    Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to how much a person may recover by filing a maritime injury lawsuit. Every case has its own variables, facts, and legal issues that will determine the potential value of the case. That said, there are certain types of damages that can be recovered, and typical factors that influence these kinds of cases.

    Factors That Can Affect Compensation in a Maritime Injury Case

    While each case is different, many of our clients are able to recover compensation for monetary losses related to the injury. This often includes medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, past wage losses, and the ability to earn a living in the future. There may also be an amount recoverable for pain and suffering damages.

    At Hofmann & Schweitzer, we examine the details of your case and estimate the value of the claim based on:

    • Liability. A case will not be worth anything if an injured party cannot prove fault. We examine whether negligence can be proven, and whether the strength of the evidence is sufficient to convince a defendant to settle or convince a judge of negligence.
    • The severity of the injury. We examine the total and combined costs of the injury, including how much they have already cost and how they are likely to impact the seaman’s future. If the injury has resulted in disability, we must estimate losses that result from the seamen’s inability to work again, or vocational losses caused by early retirement or changing jobs.
    • Defendant’s financial condition. The amount and limits of the defendant’s insurance greatly impact potential recovery, as does the defendant’s conduct with regard to safety and adherence to state and federal laws.

    We encourage you to find out more about your rights if you have suffered from a maritime injury. Contact one of our New York and New Jersey maritime accident attorneys today via our online contact form, or call 800-362-9329 and let an experienced maritime injury lawyer provide you with an opinion about how much your maritime injury case is worth. For more information on your case, be sure to download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.