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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  • Am I getting the full amount of maintenance and cure?

    Injured seamen rely on their maintenance and cure payments to sustain them during their recovery, so it is vital that their employers pay the full amount owed for these benefits. Employers typically pay medical providers directly for the costs of treatment, relieving the burden of cure. However, employers may not be as faithful when it comes to covering all of a seaman’s maintenance payments.

    You Should Keep an Eye on Your Maintenance Payments

    In the past, maritime employers and insurers were only liable for a minimal amount of maintenance to injured workers. For years, employers could pay as little as $10 per day ($300 Maritime Worker Sitting on the Couch With a Knee Injuryper month), regardless of the seaman’s actual living expenses. Today’s courts have put a stop to this, and require maritime employers to pay for a recovering seaman’s actual household expenses.

    Your employer should issue weekly or bi-weekly maintenance payments to cover your:

    • Housing. Your employer has an obligation to pay for your room and board while you are recovering from a work-related injury at home. This includes rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance.
    • Food. All of the meals you eat during recovery should be covered by an employer. This may include reimbursement for grocery bills and reasonable fast food or restaurant expenses.
    • Utilities. Employers are required to pay the costs of utilities that are necessary for a healthy living environment while you recover. Water, electricity, and gas are considered necessary household expenses, but cable, internet, and telephone services are typically not covered.

    The law requires a maritime employer to make timely and accurate payments for maintenance and cure. If you are still waiting or have been denied benefits for a maritime injury, your employer could be held liable for punitive damages for failing to pay maintenance and cure.

    If you or someone you love has been hurt at sea, you should contact the qualified maritime injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer as soon as possible to learn your legal rights. Call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY today to or download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

     

  • Should I claim workers' compensation or file a work injury lawsuit?

    Workers' Compensation Computer Screen With Gavel and Scales of JusticeIf you were injured on a job site, one of the first things you should do is file for workers' compensation for your construction injury. As a construction employee in the State of New York, you are guaranteed benefits for your lost wages and medical benefits after you are hurt at work. However, if someone other than the employer caused your injury, you could also be eligible to file an injury lawsuit against the negligent party.

    You May Collect Workers' Compensation While Filing a Work Injury Lawsuit

    State workers' compensation laws only prohibit you from suing an employer after a construction site injury. They do not prevent you from filing suit against third parties, such as a negligent subcontractor or building site owner. It may even be in your best interest to pursue both workers' compensation claims and a third-party lawsuit, as workers' compensation benefits only provide limited payment for employee losses.

    On the other hand, there are many types of damages available in third-party claims, such as:

    • Lost future wages. Workers' compensation offers long-term disability benefits after an injury, but these may fall short of the potential salary you might have earned in your lifetime had your career not been cut short.
    • Emotional distress. A severe physical injury can cause added stress, psychological trauma, and bouts of depression and anxiety about the future. A third party may be compelled to compensate you for your mental and emotional suffering.
    • Pain and suffering. Some injuries are especially heinous, causing continual pain and inconvenience that robs the victim of a normal life. Workers who are unable to do the things they once enjoyed, are unable to have children, cannot live independently, or have lost a loved one may be owed significant compensation as a result.

    Our construction accident attorneys can tell you who could be liable for your pain and suffering and calculate the full compensation you are owed—and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You're Not Alone.

     

  • Could unsafe stairs or ladders qualify as unseaworthiness?

    top NYC maritime attorneysLadders, steps, and gangways cause countless injuries and deaths on the water every year. Since these access points are vital to the operation of a ship, any defective ladders or stairways could make the vessel unseaworthy.

    Global Safety Standards for Stairs and Ladders on Vessels

    The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has created a number of safety standards for ladders and steps on a variety of vessels. The IMO specifies guidelines for:

    • Portable ladders. Free-standing portable ladders must not be over 5 meters long, built to be adequate and strong enough for the job, and used at an angle between 60 and 75 degrees from horizontal.
    • Hatches and openings. Ladders that provide access to elevated passageways or vertical openings from the vessel’s bottom must have easily accessible passageways, ladders, or treads. Treads must have lateral support for feet, and permanent ladders must be inclined at an angle of less than 70 degrees to prevent falls.
    • Signage and markings. All ladders and gangways must be clearly marked with the maximum safe loading limit and maximum permitted angle of use. The safe loading limit warning should include both the total of persons the equipment can accommodate and the total maximum weight.
    • Construction. Ladders, steps, and gangways must be made from sound materials with adequate strength to support crew members (such as steel or similar compounds). Ladders and handrails must be secured to decks and superstructures. Any flights of ladders must not be longer than 9 meters in length, and include resting platforms to prevent injury.
    • Caution. Seamen must be trained to use all means of access (such ladders and steps), with care. This includes crew safety training to warn against exceeding weight limits of ladders and gangways or using unsafe means of access.
    • Maintenance. All access equipment must be free from any noticeable defects, properly maintained, and inspected regularly. Ladders, steps, and other means of access must not be painted in a way that hides cracks, corrosion, or other defects.

    A maritime employer who did not follow these guidelines or take action to replace a defective ladder could be found negligent. If you or someone you love has been hurt at sea, the maritime injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can explain your next steps and what you are owed under the law. Call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY today to or download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

     

  • Do I need a lawyer to file a third-party claim?

    Top NYC construction attorneys

    Compensation in third-party construction injury cases is awarded in addition to workers’ compensation benefits, allowing you to collect full value for your injuries. However, they can be difficult to prove and hard to negotiate in settlement talks, so you should definitely have an attorney on your side.

    Your Lawyer Is Vital in a Third Party Construction Injury Claim

    A third-party claim is a type of lawsuit filed against someone other than an employer whose negligence played a part in your injuries. In construction site accidents, third parties could include general contractors, sub-contractors, equipment operators, property owners, or the manufacturers of defective equipment.

    Our attorneys can be invaluable after a construction site injury when it comes to:

    • Getting you the benefit payments you need to survive. New York provides injured workers with guaranteed benefits under workers’ compensation after a construction site injury. You do not have to file a lawsuit or prove that anyone was negligent in order to collect workers’ compensation. However, you will have to meet certain filing and injury reporting deadlines in order to receive payment. We can ensure that you receive your rightful benefits while you are unable to work after an injury on the job.
    • Explaining your rights and options. New York construction is governed by a mix of federal, state, and local statutes. We can determine your rights under both U.S. and NY Labor Laws to find the best way forward for your case.
    • Discovering who was at fault. Construction sites are bustling workplaces, with the potential for numerous people to be named in third-party cases. In addition, an injured construction worker may even be able to directly sue an employer for a work-related injury in New York if the employer was willfully or recklessly negligent, attacked the employee physically, or failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
    • Negotiating on your behalf. Workers’ compensation may not be enough to adequately compensate you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and permanent disability. We can calculate your past and future losses, deal with insurance companies and medical bill collectors, and prevent you from saying or doing anything to hurt your claim.

    Contact Top NYC Construction Accident Attorneys Today

    Our construction accident attorneys work hard to get you everything you are entitled to after an injury. We offer free, no-obligation consultations for construction accident victims, allowing you to learn your options and next steps at no cost to you. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.

     

  • Why are plate freezers so hazardous for commercial fishermen?

    Frozen Fish on a Fishing Vessel

    Fishermen face a wide range of hazards at sea, including the machinery used to haul and store the day’s catch. In fact, equipment accidents are a common cause of injuries to commercial fishermen, particularly the large industrial freezers found on trawlers and factory ships.

    The Dangers of Working Around Plate Freezers

    Like most maritime machinery accidents, an employer’s negligence is often to blame when a worker suffers an injury. Employees who were not properly trained to use plate freezers safely or who were forced to work with broken or outdated freezers could have an unseaworthiness claim against the shipowner.

    There are many risks associated with the use of plate freezers, including:

    • Finger and hand injuries. In order to keep harvested seafood fresh, it is frozen at extremely low temperatures (up to 40 degrees below zero). If workers are not issued adequate gloves or protective gear, they can suffer freezer burn or frostbite that causes the loss of a digit.
    • Back injuries. The daily loading and unloading of blocks of frozen fish can take a toll on workers’ backs. Years of lifting, turning, or twisting movements can cause irreparable damage to the bones and tissues in the spine, leading to early retirement or potential long-term disability.
    • Struck-by accidents. If the vessel is caught in a storm, a metallic pan full of frozen fish may be flung from the freezer unit without warning. As these pans can weigh over 25 pounds, the damage it causes when it hits a crew member can be deadly.
    • Suffocation. Plate freezers require a great deal of refrigerants to keep products cool, which can be deadly if released into an enclosed space. Poor maintenance of refrigeration units can case hazardous chemicals to leak into work areas, resulting in throat and lung injuries or deaths by suffocation.

    Contact Top NYC Maritime Injury Attorneys Today

    If you or someone you love has been hurt at sea, the maritime injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can determine who may be liable for the accident and what you are owed under the law. Call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY today or fill out our online contact form. You can also download a complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

     

  • Can I get pain and suffering in my construction accident case?

    Top NYC construction attorneys

    As a construction employee, you are guaranteed benefits under workers’ compensation after a construction site injury. While these benefits cover lost wages, medical bills, and partial or total disability payments, they do not pay workers for their pain and suffering. In order to recover these damages, you will have to pursue a third-party claim against someone other than your employer.

    Construction Injury Complications That May Qualify for Pain and Suffering

    The workers’ compensation system prevents employees from suing their employers after an injury, but allows employees to file lawsuits against third parties whose actions contributed to the injury. Third parties such as the manufacturer of a defective machine part, a negligent subcontractor, or an inspector who failed to identify a serious safety hazard could be liable for all losses related to the injury—including pain and suffering.

    While every injury causes some degree of pain or suffering, this category of damages is meant to compensate victims whose conditions have resulted in:

    • Psychological damages. Physical injuries can result in a wide range of debilitating mental and emotional symptoms, including mood swings, depression, sleep disturbances, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
    • Uncontrollable pain. Victims may be owed additional compensation for extreme physical pain and discomfort after the injury, during recovery, and in the future. Since pain is subjective, a doctor’s testimony could demonstrate the extent of the victim’s suffering and the limitations expected in the future.
    • Loss of enjoyment of life. A person may be unable to do the things they once enjoyed due to permanent consequences of the injury, such as extensive scarring, amputation of a leg or hand, sexual dysfunction, blindness, or loss of independence.

    Contact Top NYC Contstruction Attorneys Today

    Our construction accident attorneys can tell you who could be liable for your pain and suffering and calculate the full compensation you are owed—and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.

     

  • Do fish processing equipment accidents qualify as a maritime injury?

    top nyc maritime attorneysThe fishing industry requires all kinds of workers to remain afloat, from the fishermen who bring in the catch to the packers who prepare the stock for delivery. If you prepare fish for the freezing and packing process on a trawler or fish processing vessel, your injury may qualify you for benefits under the Jones Act.

    Common Types of Fish Processing Injuries

    Many fishermen, packers, and deckhands suffer serious injuries every year as a result of vessel hazards and unsafe working conditions. An injury at sea is likely to be fatal, but those who survive often have permanent disabilities that significantly limit their ability to earn a living.

    The most common injuries among fishermen and workers who process fish include:

    • Back and neck injuries. Long hours lifting heavy seafood boxes can cause irreparable damage to the spine, while the repetitive motions of bending and leaning over fish to be cleaned can put undue stress on the neck. As a result, commercial fishermen may suffer herniated discs, pinched nerves, and other painful back and neck conditions.
    • Lacerations and puncture wounds. The process of slicing, skinning, and gutting fish often causes cuts or penetrating wounds from blades, bones, and fish spines. A minor laceration on the hand can result in an infection caused by exposure to bacteria or parasites on the fish.
    • Fractures. Bone fractures in the arms and legs are especially common on fish processing vessels due to falls on slippery decks, conveyor belt accidents, struck-by injuries, and crush injuries.
    • Amputations. Vessels that process fish and other seafood products are equipped with heavy machinery, including augers, presses, bait choppers, and automatic deheaders to remove fish heads and tails. An overworked employee may accidentally lose a finger or even a hand due to automatic cutting tools.

    If you or someone you love has been hurt at sea, the maritime injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can determine who may be liable for the accident and what you are owed under the law. Call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY today or download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

     

  • How do I start a third-party construction accident claim?

    Top NYC construction lawyers

    Construction sites are active workplaces that can involve employees from many different companies, unions, or government agencies. Construction crews often work shoulder-to-shoulder with workers under the employ of multiple contractors, making it difficult to know which party’s actions directly led to an injury. Our construction accident attorneys work diligently to determine the at-fault party, helping you recover all you are owed for your economic losses and pain and suffering.

    What to Expect in Your Third-Party Construction Accident Claim

    A third-party work injury claim is a civil lawsuit against someone other than your employer. This could be anyone on the site the day of the injury, a negligent subcontractor, the manufacturer of a defective product, or an owner who failed to make the site safe for workers.

    When you meet with us, we will:

    • Listen to your story and address your immediate concerns. It can take time to get you all that you are owed for your injury. We can discuss ways to pay bills while your case is pending, including filing for workers’ compensation, as well as protecting you from employer retaliation.
    • Investigate on your behalf. Workers are often too injured to collect evidence after an accident on the job. Unfortunately, a lot of evidence can be lost in the days and weeks after the incident. We will take steps to prevent the destruction of evidence, find out who was in charge of the location at the time of the accident, and discover what was happening on the site leading up to your injury.
    • Take legal matters off your plate. Your chief concern should be your own well-being. While you concentrate on your recovery, our team will examine all possible avenues of compensation based on the evidence we have collected, including determining the proper third-party to name in the lawsuit.
    • Fight for you until you get adequate compensation. Once our investigation is complete, we contact the liable party and file insurance claims to demand a fair payment for your suffering. If the at-fault party or insurer is unwilling to negotiate a fair settlement, our trial attorneys will prepare to take your case to court.

    Contact Top New York City Construction Attorneys Today

    Our attorneys will work to get you the compensation you are owed, and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.

     

  • Who is responsible for distraction-related maritime accidents?

    Maritime Workers on Ship DeckDistractions aren’t just a problem on the road, they are a major peril for employees who work on or near water. In a car, it is only the driver who could cause an accident—on a vessel, any crew member’s inattention can cause serious or fatal injuries. When distractions combine with the dangers of open water and heavy machinery, a maritime worker may suffer amputation, traumatic brain injury, lacerations, spinal damage, or hypothermia.

    Liability for Maritime Accidents Caused by Distraction

    Maritime workers have a duty to mitigate distractions while on duty, such as using their smartphones to talk or text or listening to loud music. On the other hand, vessel owners may be responsible if they did not make efforts to reduce distractions from noisy machinery, outdated systems, confusing instructions, or unseaworthy conditions aboard the ship.

    Distraction-related accidents can occur anywhere at any time, including:

    • Open water. There are many hazards on open water, including floating debris, sandbars, and the risk of falling overboard. If a crew member is more interested in checking his emails or social media accounts, he may fail to notice when a coworker falls overboard, increasing the time it takes to mount a rescue.
    • Shipping lanes. An accident in a crowded body of water can involve multiple vessels and injuries, and may be caused by a distracted crew member on another ship.
    • Docks and harbors. Pilots and navigators must pay close attention to their duties when bringing ships in and out of port to avoid dock collisions and grounding. Ship owners and operators should have strict policies in place prohibiting the use of electronic devices during potentially dangerous maneuvers.

    If you or someone you love has been hurt at sea, the maritime injury attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can determine who may be liable for the accident and what you are owed under the law. Call 1-800-3-MAY-DAY today to or download your complimentary copy of Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights.

     

  • My loved one died while working on a construction site. Could I have a third party claim?

    Injured Construction Worker on the Side of the RoadThe loss of a family member is not only tragic—it can cause financial hardship for survivors for years into the future. While there are benefits available under workers’ compensation, they may fall far short of what a family needs to survive. For this reason, it is always worth investigating whether you could recover through a third-party claim after a relative is killed in a construction accident.

    Compensation for Families After a Fatal Construction Site Accident

    Construction workers are protected by many different safety and liability laws when performing work in New York City. They even have the right to sue their employers and coworkers in cases of grave injury—something that is usually prohibited under workers’ compensation law. In cases of fatal injury, the right to file a lawsuit to recover medical costs, funeral expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering passes to the worker’s family.

    Unfortunately, survivors are often overwhelmed by grief and unaware of what they are entitled to under the law. That is why our New York construction accident attorneys do everything we can to prevent you from being taken advantage of in your time of need.

    We help you:

    • Claim your workers’ compensation benefits. You and your family are entitled to death benefits under workers’ compensation law even if you file an injury lawsuit.
    • Identify who was responsible. Subcontractors, property owners, equipment manufacturers, and other third parties whose negligence causes an injury on the job could all be sued after a wrongful death. We perform a thorough investigation to get to the true cause of the accident and hold every negligent party accountable.
    • Meet required deadlines and filing requirements. Workers’ compensation claims and wrongful death claims have specific procedural requirements, and we ensure all paperwork is complete to preserve your right to recovery.
    • Deal with the employer and insurance company on your behalf. Throughout the course of your claim, the employer’s insurance company will do everything it can to pay you as little as possible. We negotiate with the company on your behalf, getting you what you deserve for your loss.

    Our attorneys will work to get you the compensation you are owed, and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.