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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Do I Have to Give a Recorded Statement to Recover Damages Pursuant to the Jones Act
No. There is nothing in the Jones Act that requires seamen to give a recorded statement to their employer in order to obtain benefits. In fact, if an employer or insurance company is trying to get you to give a recorded statement then it is very likely that the questioner will try to get you to say something that will hurt, rather than help, your claim.
While our New York and New Jersey maritime accident lawyers encourage seamen who have been injured to promptly report the accident to their employer and to follow all reasonable procedures, we also encourage seamen to be suspicious if a recorded statement is requested.
If your employer, or an insurance company, has requested that you provide a recorded statement, or has insisted that you must provide a recorded statement in order to recover benefits, please contact a New Jersey or New York Jones Act lawyer before you provide such a statement. You can be confident that your employer and the insurance company are being advised by counsel. Give yourself the same benefit before you provide any recorded responses
What Are the Dangers of Working in a New York Shipyard?
Yes, working in a shipyard is dangerous. While there may be many benefits to the work, including the income you can earn and the rewarding work that you will do, there are also specific dangers you need to know about.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the injury accident rate among shipyard workers is more than twice what it is for general industry—including construction.
What This Means For You
It does not mean that you should not take the job. Instead, it means that you should make sure that:
- You are well trained for the work that you are doing.
- You work for an employer who cares about safety and who provides all the appropriate safety equipment and training to workers.
- You know what to do if you are injured.
It is possible to recover from some shipyard injuries.
But You Have to Know How
After you see a doctor and have a plan to recover physically, you will likely need to see a lawyer to develop a plan to recover financially. You may have lost a significant amount of income if you are hurt and can’t work, and you may be incurring significant medical bills. However, the law may allow you to recover from your lost income due to your work injury.
For more information, please read our FREE publication, The Legal Rights Of Injured Seamen, Dockbuilders, Dredgemen And Other Commercial Mariners: Ten Important Questions Answered , and please start an online chat with us now.
Does the Longshore Act Apply to Your Work Injury?
Since its enactment in 1927, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (Longshore Act) has provided protection to some maritime workers who are hurt on the job. If you have been hurt while working on a dock, in a harbor, or in another maritime position then you are going to want to know if the Longshore Act applies to you and what you should do to protect your rights.
Who Qualifies for Protection?
Generally, a longshoreman, harbor worker, shipbuilder, ship repairer, or ship breaker may be covered by the Longshore Act. However, there are some people who work on docks or in harbors who do not qualify for protection.
Specifically, the Longshore Act has explicit exceptions for the following kinds of workers if state workers’ compensation laws apply to their recoveries:
- Workers who exclusively do secretarial, clerical or data processing work
- Workers who exclusively do security work
- Workers who are employed by a club, camp, retail outlet, restaurant, recreational operation or museum
- Workers who are employed by a marina and who are not working in the construction, replacement, or expansion of the marina
- Aquaculture workers
- Workers who are employed to build, repair or dismantle recreational vessels under sixty-five feet in length
- Individuals employed by suppliers, transporters or vendors
- Some individuals who are temporarily doing business
- Individuals who are not doing work that is normally done by those who are covered by the Longshore Act
It also does not apply to:
- A master or crew member of a vessel
- Workers asked by a master to load, unload, or repair a small vessel that weighs under eighteen tons
Other laws apply to protect the rights of these injured workers.
Pursue a Claim According to the Applicable Law
The myriad of maritime injury laws and other workers’ compensation laws is complex and it is important to pursue the right type of claim in order to protect your recovery. If you have questions about which laws apply to you, we encourage you to read the articles in the related link section of this page and start a live chat with us today.
What are my rights if I am injured as a marine construction worker in the State of New York?
First of all, your employer is responsible for providing benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) which will provide medical treatment for the injuries you sustained at work and will also provide you with compensation payments during your period of disability. Depending on the part of your body that is injured, you may also be entitled to a lump sum award if you have any permanent injuries.
Depending on the circumstances which caused your injuries and the type of work you were performing you may also be able to pursue a lawsuit under Section 905(b) of the LHWCA, under the General Maritime Law and/or due to violations of the New York State Labor Law.
Special Rights Under New York Labor Law Sections 200, 240 AND 241
Some special laws apply to construction workers in New York. Construction and demolition workers are entitled to recover damages caused by a violation of New York Labor Law sections 200, 240(1) and 241(6). Under section 240, if the equipment required by that law is not provided, or fails, there is strict liability against both the owner of the property, and the contractor(s) on the job site, and you are entitled to compensatory damages caused by the violation. This statute is a strong weapon in your arsenal, so much so that even your own contributory negligence will not reduce your recovery. The safety benefits of this statute cover all workers who are injured by a gravity or elevation-related risk. It dictates that various safety devices must be installed and in good working order during the construction or demolition of any structure to protect you from falling or being struck by a falling object.
Under New York Labor Law, Section 241, additional rights are provided to the construction worker against the property owner and other contractors if they fail to comply with the law. Labor Law Section 241 Subsections (1) through (5) provide for specific actions to be followed, and equipment to be provided, on the job site. And under Labor Law, Section 241, Subsection (6), owners and contractors are required to comply with various regulations adopted by the New York Department of Labor for the construction workers' protection. Finally, under Section 200, owners, architects and contractors must fulfill common law duties to protect construction workers from injury.
Does Maritime Law Apply to Me if I Was Injured While Working in the Harbor?
Maritime law does apply to harbor workers, though different laws apply to harbor workers than to seamen. The most significant law that applies to harbor workers is called the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act protects workers who are involved in the maritime industry but who do not work on navigable waters or on the high seas. Harbor workers who are injured on the job are entitled to compensation for their injuries pursuant to this law. Damages can include compensation for 2/3 of your average weekly wage for a number of weeks. The number of weeks depends on the body part that was injured.
In order to recover disability payments pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, it is important to file your claim in a very specific way. The New York and New Jersey maritime lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can help you recover the damages to which you are entitled.
Are FELA and Workers Compensation the Same Thing
No, while FELA and state workers compensation have similar purposes, in that they both compensate workers who are hurt on the job, they are separate laws and they are not the same thing. FELA is an acronym for the Federal Employers Liability Act. Since it was passed in 1908, FELA has helped injured railroad workers recover damages for injuries sustained in the course of their employment. FELA only applies to railroad workers and not to workers in other types of industries.
Generally, FELA allows for greater compensation to injured railroad workers than state workers compensation laws would provide. For example, a successful FELA claim could allow an injured New York or New Jersey train worker to recover damages for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. FELA does not use the same formula set by workers compensation laws.
For more information about your potential FELA recovery, please contact an experienced New York City FELA lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer. We can be reached at 1-800-362-9329 for a free consultation.
Are railroad accidents always caused by human error?
No. While the mistake of a conductor or crew member is certainly a potential cause of a railroad accident, it is not the only reason trains derail or crash. In late 2014 and early 2015, for example, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released reports about recent train accidents in the New York City area and around the country. According to the preliminary reports, some of the accidents were caused by human error such as operator fatigue and excessive speed. However, other causes were also found, including failure of safety technologies and compromised equipment.
The NTSB found, for example, that a 2014 collision between two Union Pacific trains in Arkansas may have been caused by a faulty alert. In other words, the technology that was supposed to correct for human error may have failed and instead resulted in actual harm. Similarly, the NTSB found that a 2013 Metro North accident was probably caused by undetected problems with the rail tracks. In these cases, while there may not be a person to blame, the railroad is still at fault and should be held accountable.
How Will You Know the Cause of Your Train Accident?
You can’t go out and investigate the accident yourself, but you also don’t want to rely on the word of the railroad. Instead, you want to know the truth from an independent agency and from someone who is representing your interests. If you’ve been injured, we encourage you to follow news of your train accident investigation from the NTSB and to contact an experienced railroad lawyer who can make sure your rights are protected.
You can contact us online or call our office directly at 1.800.362.9329 to schedule a free consultation.
Can Railroad Switching Accidents Be Serious?
While the majority of train and engine workers are not hurt or killed in railroad switching accidents, switching accidents are not uncommon and can be serious. Thus, while we encourage you not to worry, our New York railroad lawyers do have several safety suggestions for your family.
First, we recommend that your husband ask questions of his employer. He should make sure that all applicable safety regulations and recommendations are being followed including, but not limited to, appropriate training for all employees and mentoring for less experienced employees.
Second, your husband should understand how to report a potential safety hazard before he, or someone else, is injured or killed in a New York railroad switching accident.
Finally, we encourage both you and your husband to know how to contact an experienced New York railroad attorney if your husband is injured or killed. The railroad may not be forthcoming about your family’s rights after an accident and may offer a settlement that is too low for the damages suffered. A New York train lawyer can help your family understand what happened and zealously advocate for a full and complete recovery.
To reach a New York railroad accident lawyer after a switching injury or fatality, please call 1-800-362-9329 or complete our online contact form for more information.
What Damages Can I Collect if I Am Injured in a New York City Subway Accident?
If you are injured in a New York City subway accident then the likely defendant in your case is the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). In order to collect damages against the MTA, you must follow specific procedures. A New York railroad accident lawyer can make sure that you follow all applicable procedures in order to safeguard your rights of recovery.
Potential damages in a subway accident include compensation for all your injuries. For example, your compensation may include the costs of your medical and rehabilitation expenses, reimbursement for your lost wages if you were unable to work because of your injury, reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses such as household help or childcare that were made necessary by your injury, and compensation for your pain and suffering. Damage awards typically include compensation for expenses and suffering that you have already endured and expenses and suffering that you are expected to endure. Your New York subway-accident attorney can help you collect the damages to which you may be entitled as a result of your New York subway accident injuries.
Contact us online or call our office directly at 1.800.362.9329 to schedule your free consultation.
My New York Railroad Employer Wants to Classify My Injury as Non-Occupational. Is this important?
The classification of your injury as an occupational or non-occupational injury may be very important to your recovery and to your rights. A railroad employer may want the injury to be classified as non-occupational, so as to avoid reporting it and to avoid having to provide appropriate protections to you. However, it may violate the Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA) to purposefully misclassify the injury or to pressure the injured worker or the injured worker's doctor to make the misclassification.
If you suffer an occupational injury while working for the railroad, then you have certain protections afforded to you by the FRSA. Some of those protections do not apply if you suffer a non-occupational injury. Thus, the classification of your injury may be critically important both to your financial recovery from your injury and to the protections the FRSA affords you in your job.
If you have been hurt in a New York or New Jersey railroad accident, then it is important to learn about your rights and how to protect them. Please call a New York FELA lawyer today. The New York FELA attorneys of Hofmann & Schweitzer can be reached at 1-800-362-9329 and would be pleased to provide you with a free consultation.