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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  • 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other hand, vessel owners may be responsible if they did not make efforts to reduce distractions from noisy machinery, outdated systems, confusing instructions, or unseaworthy conditions aboard the ship.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.

     

  • What are the most common causes of electrical maritime injuries?

    Maritime Electrical Workers Working on a Ship's ElectricalElectrical systems are crucial to the safe and profitable operation of all vessels in the maritime industry. A ship is essentially a floating city, and electricity is needed to run everything from lights and navigation systems to heavy equipment such as winches, cranes, and conveyor belts. Unfortunately, a fault in any one of these systems could cause severe or even fatal electrical maritime injuries.

    Maritime Workers Can Suffer a Wide Range of Electrical Injuries

    Electrical hazards are generally a result of a live wire or a short circuit. Workers can suffer contact with live electrical parts many different ways, such as malfunctioning equipment, lack of fencing or posted warnings, inadequate repair or maintenance, or untrained workers attempting to fix electrical issues.

    Without proper safety precautions, seamen and harbor workers may suffer:

    • Fire injuries. Small sparks can quickly lead to open flames, and ship fires must be put out quickly in order to avoid a tragedy. Even a contained fire can lead to smoke inhalation injuries, burns, eye injuries, scarring, or falls overboard.
    • Electric shocks. Shocks occur when there is an unexpected flow of electricity through the human body, such as a saw blade striking an electric cable or brushing against frayed wiring or live circuit boards. When the voltage is extremely high, workers may suffer death by electric shock (electrocution).
    • Fall injuries. A sudden electric shock from live wires, circuit boards, or cables can propel a victim several feet, leading to fall injuries such as head trauma, broken bones, or drowning.
    • Collisions. If lights and navigation systems fail, a vessel may be invisible to other ships while sailing at night. The vessel may accidentally drift into docks, harbors, or other ships, especially if the power outage has affected radio and wireless communication systems.
    • Punctures and struck-by injuries. Defective electrical tools may suddenly stop and restart, causing an unintentional discharge from a nail or staple gun. A malfunctioning forklift may have its lights fail or engine stall, rolling over nearby workers.

    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.

     

  • How can I tell if my construction injury was caused by negligent hiring?

    Construction Worker Being Hired on as an EmployeeConstruction sites are dangerous enough without employees worrying if their coworkers are up to the demands of the job. Workers rely on their teammates for everything to lifting heavy loads to pulling them to safety in an emergency—and if a fellow employee is unfit for his position, workers can suffer severe injury or even death. If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligent hiring by an employer, our construction injury attorneys can help you recover.

    Hiring Negligence Causes Injuries on Construction Sites

    Employers are required to perform due diligence (a reasonable level of care) when hiring new employees to perform construction work. Due diligence can include checking an applicant’s references, ensuring the employee has the right training, and otherwise make reasonably sure a new hire will not cause harm to others. A failure to adequately investigate a potential employee can not only put other employees and the public at risk, it can open the employer up to negligence claims. 

    Employers may be held liable for injuries caused by employees who:

    • Were not properly trained for the position held
    • Did not have enough work experience
    • Had a past track record of violent behavior or abuse of authority
    • Were the subject of reports or concerns to the employer that were not properly investigated
    • Were promoted past their level of training or experience
    • Had a history of drug or alcohol abuse and caused injury due to intoxication on the job
    • Did not have the proper licensing or credentials to perform the work that led to injury
    • Did not have adequate safety training to minimize worksite risks
    • Did not meet legal requirements for employment or the position held
    • Were kept employed (or in a certain position) despite repeated warnings of improper conduct

    If you’ve been hurt on a New York construction site, our experienced attorneys can determine if you could collect pain and suffering compensation through a third-party claim—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.

     

  • Can I file a Jones Act claim if my vessel did not have adequate medical equipment?

    Injured Maritime Worker With a Neck Brace on a StretcherIf a crew member becomes seriously ill or suffers an injury aboard a vessel, the employer has a duty to seek reasonable medical care. Unfortunately, many seamen suffer serious injury or death each year because an employer failed to provide them with necessary medical treatment.

    Failure to Provide Medical Care on a Vessel May Be a Form of Negligence

    In general maritime injury cases, employers and shipowners can be held liable if they fail to ensure a safe workplace at sea. While ship operators may not be able to predict or prevent all injuries, they are held to certain standards about how injured and ill crewmen should be treated.

    Crew members may be able to seek compensation from an employer or shipowner who did not provide:

    • Adequate medical supplies. A first aid kit may not be enough to treat the kinds of injuries that happen at sea. All vessels should be equipped with the types of medical supplies needed to address common emergencies on the water.
    • Sufficient emergency response training. Vessels can be miles from the nearest healthcare facility, and the crew must be prepared and trained to act when a seaman suffers a medical emergency. Operators of small and large vessels should ensure that the crew is properly trained in emergency first aid procedures, including when to evacuate the injured crew member for further treatment.
    • Onboard medical personnel. Larger ships may be required to carry a medic, nurse, or other licensed medical practitioner to attend to onboard injuries. These professionals may be held liable if they misdiagnose a condition or take actions that aggravate or worsen a seaman’s health.
    • Emergency transportation to shore. In severe cases, injured crewmen should be evacuated to a hospital for immediate medical intervention. The ship’s medic may be liable if he or she does not consult with the Coast Guard or medical consultants on shore or causes a delay in further medical care.

    If you or someone you love has been injured at sea, the maritime 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.

     

  • What are the most common causes of broken bones in construction work?

    Construction Worker With a Broken LegConstruction sites are inherently dangerous places, with workers facing the threat of serious injury every time they enter the job site. A broken bone may seem like a relatively minor injury in the construction industry, but fractures can result in a wide range of consequences for an accident victim. Unfortunately, the majority of construction fracture injuries require medical intervention, cause months or years of recovery, and can even result in death.

    Common Causes of Bone Fractures on Construction Sites

    Like many injuries, a broken bone can cause complications long after the initial injury has healed. Victims may need surgical insertion of pins, plates, or screws to stabilize the bone, causing lifting restrictions or osteoarthritis that can force the employee to leave the construction trade. If you have suffered a significant loss of income due to a bone fracture, you may need the help of a construction injury attorney to get you all that you are owed.

    The most common causes of bone fractures in the construction industry include:

    • Falls. Falls from heights on construction sites are a leading cause of broken bones, including shattered ribs that cause internal bleeding or spinal fractures that cause long-term disability. Even a trip or slip can cause a fracture in the wrist or ankle, requiring time off work and causing limited mobility.
    • Falling objects. Roofing materials, tools, masonry, and other objects can easily fall from upper levels onto workers below, causing skull fractures that require reconstructive surgery, extended rehabilitation, and sometimes future surgeries.
    • Machinery accidents. Unguarded machinery or malfunctioning power tools can result in compound fractures—broken bones that penetrate through the skin and open the body to potential infection.
    • Explosions. A sudden fire or explosion can not only cause multiple fractures, it may be an indication that the construction site was negligently maintained or was in violation of federal or state safety regulations. 

    If you’ve been hurt on a New York construction site, our experienced attorneys can help you obtain workers’ compensation benefits and determine if you could collect pain and suffering through a third party claim—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.

     

  • Can I file a Jones Act claim if I was assaulted on my vessel?

    Maritime Assault Screen on a Laptop With a GavelJones Act seamen face numerous hazards aboard their vessels, and should not have to face the added danger of physical or sexual assault. Unfortunately, many maritime workers will suffer these kinds of attacks at the hands of their fellow crew members, forcing them to endure painful trauma that could last the rest of their lives.

    Employer Negligence in Jones Act Claims for Assault

    The consequences of physical and sexual assaults on a vessel can be devastating. A victim may be left with disfiguring scars, suffer permanent disability, or even killed due to an aggressive act. Even if the victim’s physical injuries heal with time, the psychological trauma of the incident may prevent the victim from returning to work, cutting short a lucrative career in the maritime industry.

    In general maritime law and Jones Act cases, an employer can be held liable for failure to ensure a safe workplace at sea. As a result, crew members on fishing boats, cruise ships, and other vessels may be able to seek compensation from an employer or shipowner as well as the person who assaulted them after a:

    • Fistfight. Long hours, intoxication, and personality conflicts on working vessels can all increase the odds that an altercation will turn violent. Employers should have strict policies involving alcohol and drug use, ensure that workers get proper rest, and have training and disciplinary programs to discourage fighting on vessels.
    • Armed attack. Employers may share liability for crew member stabbings, shootings, or injury from other weapons if the employer knew or should have known that the assailant had weapons aboard the ship.
    • Sexual assault. If a fellow crew member is charged with criminal sexual assault, the employer may share responsibility due to negligent hiring practices (such as hiring someone with a history of violent behavior).

    If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a physical altercation at sea, the maritime attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can determine who may be liable for your 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.

     

  • Will workers’ compensation pay for PTSD related to a construction injury?

    PTSD Text With Construction ToolsAlthough post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly associated with soldiers in combat situations, the condition can affect anyone who has been in through a traumatic event. An injury on a construction site could have a significant impact on an employee’s mental state, and New York workers’ compensation allows workers to collect benefits for PTSD. However, mental health claims are some of the most difficult claims to prove, and it may take the help of an experienced construction injury attorney to get you the benefits you are owed.

    Construction Workers May Be Owed Compensation for PTSD

    Construction employees with PTSD may need extended time away from work, psychological treatment (including therapy and medications), and cognitive retraining to avoid response to triggering aspects of daily life. The loud noises, sudden shouts and bangs, and other hazards on a construction site may make it impossible for the employee to focus or perform even light-duty work. Workers’ compensation benefits can provide payment for lost wages, coverage of all medical treatment related to the PTSD, and disability benefits for permanent mental health impairment. 

    New York workers’ compensation benefits may cover PTSD:

    • With a physical injury. A worker may suffer PTSD after a serious accident that caused painful or debilitating physical injuries. These employees may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits for the cost of the physical injuries, as well as the emotional effects of the trauma that can last for many years after the accident.
    • As a standalone condition. A worker can suffer PTSD without sustaining a physical injury, such as from the trauma of witnessing an accident on the job site. The sight of a fellow worker falling from a building or losing an arm on an unguarded machine could form the basis of a workers’ compensation claim for PTSD.

    If you’ve been hurt on a New York construction site, our attorneys can help you obtain workers’ compensation benefits and determine if you could collect pain and suffering through a third party claim—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.

     

  • Can families file a lawsuit if a maritime worker drowned?

    Caution Drowning SignDespite the many safety advances and lifesaving precautions in the maritime industry, drowning remains a high risk for seamen and harbor workers. Fatal drowning accidents can happen while a vessel is at sea, when the vessel is approaching a harbor, or even when vessels are tied to a dock. While the inciting incidents in each case may vary, the majority of maritime workers who drown are the victims of someone else’s negligence.

    Common Reasons for Drowning Incidents in the Maritime Industry

    Drowning incidents can occur any time seamen enter the water, but are most likely to happen after an unwitnessed or unprotected fall overboard. If a loved one was killed after falling off of his or her vessel, family members should speak with a maritime injury attorney to determine whether the incident was caused by:

    • Lack of PPE. Employers are required to provide life vests to all crew members working on deck, ensure that flotation devices are worn, and replace any damaged or worn-out life-preserving equipment on vessels.
    • Training or staffing deficits. All vessels should be staffed with an adequate number of crew members. Understaffing can cause fatigue and exhaustion among workers, increasing the odds of an accident. Employers should also implement “buddy system” techniques to ensure that employees work in pairs during potentially dangerous maneuvers, decreasing the amount of time a person would spend in the water if he or she fell overboard. In addition, employers have a duty to ensure that all seamen have received training both on their job duties and on proper safety and resume measures.
    • Unseaworthiness. Vessel defects are a primary cause of slip or trip accidents that can cause a seaman to fall overboard. Owners may be held liable if damaged ladders, faulty lifeboats, slippery decks, or other unsafe equipment rendered the vessel unseaworthy.

    If someone you love was killed at sea, the maritime attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can determine who may be held liable 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.

     

  • Does the Jones Act cover falls overboard?

    Side Railing on a Large BoatFalls overboard are not only one of the most common kinds of injuries at sea, and they are also the most deadly. When these accidents happen, victims can claim benefits under the Jones Act for the costs of their injuries and lost wages, and may also pursue compensation for negligence and unseaworthiness.

    Maritime Injuries Sustained in Falls Overboard

    Crew members working on all types of vessels have a duty to follow rescue protocol when a seaman or passenger goes overboard. Once a person has fallen into the water, the ship must use all reasonable means available to retrieve him or her as long as the person could reasonably be found alive.

    If crews are not properly trained or do not witness the fall, a seaman can suffer severe injuries such as:

    • Hypothermia. Depending on the temperature of the water and length of time before rescue, a seaman’s body temperature can fall drastically, affecting his or her ability to swim or even remain afloat.
    • Coma. A person who has been rescued from the water should receive adequate first aid to bring up his or her body temperature safely. If heat is not applied quickly, the person’s heart and brain may slow down considerably, resulting in a coma. If heat is applied to the extremities rather than the torso, chilled blood could rush into the victim’s heart, resulting in cardiac arrest.
    • Drowning. Seaman who are not provided with a personal flotation device (PFD) while working on deck are much more likely to drown after falling into the water. Family members should always investigate the wrongful death of a maritime worker to see if the accident could have been prevented.

    If you or someone you love suffered an overboard incident, the maritime attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer can determine who may be liable for your 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.