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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When should I go back to work after a maritime injury?
Workers who suffered a maritime injury must be extremely cautious when it comes to returning to work after an injury. Not only can returning to work too early worsen your injuries, it can also be used as evidence against you and give an employer leverage to deny your rightful compensation in a maritime injury claim. You should go back to work when you are fully healed, and only after you are certain that you can resume all work duties at full capacity.
Why Returning to Work Too Early Can Affect Injury Compensation
If your doctor has not cleared you or has placed restrictions on the amount of manual labor you can do, you should not return to work. By returning to work, you are essentially telling your employer that you are at full working and earning capacity. If you suffer aggravation of your injury (or suffer a new one), an employer can greatly devalue your claim since you returned to work in a “fully-healed” state.
The parties in your case may have differing opinions about your ability to go back to work, including:
- Employers. It is not uncommon for employers to bully, threaten, or pressure workers to return to work before they have healed. If employers and their insurers are successful in getting you to come back, they can save thousands of dollars in future medical costs and lost income, as well as avoid paying you for your lost earning capacity. Depending on the methods an employer uses, pressuring you to come back to work can be an unethical or even illegal maneuver.
- Medical providers. Employers are required to get a medical release from a physician before returning to work after an injury. Doctors supplied by employers are obviously biased to get you back to work as quickly as possible, even if you are not ready. Even if the doctor truly believes you are ready, doctors are still human beings and can make mistakes about the success of their own treatment.
- You. Many workers are afraid to give their doctors the full list of their symptoms, fearing that they will be blacklisted from future maritime employment. Unfortunately, underreporting your injuries denies you the treatment you need and leads employers to believe you are able to work.
Maritime employers have teams of lawyers and insurance companies that all understand the limits of maritime law. If you have any doubts about your claim or your ability to work, you should speak with the experienced maritime injury lawyers at Hofmann & Schweitzer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 1-800-362-9329 to schedule your free consultation.
Can I be fired for being a whistleblower?
If your construction site has any safety concerns that could cause serious or fatal construction injuries, it is your duty to report these conditions immediately. All workers are given the right to a safe workplace by federal law—and this law also protects workers who report unsafe conditions from retaliation.
Construction Workers Are Protected When Reporting Safety Violations
Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act states that employers are forbidden from taking any adverse action against any employee who reports a safety violation to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Workers also cannot be discriminated against if they request an OSHA inspection, testify in an OSHA proceeding involving the employer, or even for reporting the conditions to their employers.
Adverse actions do not just include the firing of an employee, but other forms of retaliation such as:
- Reducing a worker’s pay
- Giving a worker fewer hours
- Laying off workers
- Reassigning a worker to a different site or location
- Blacklisting an employee
- Demoting a worker with no other cause
- Failing to pay overtime
- Denying an earned promotion
- Taking disciplinary action
- Denying rightful benefits
- Failure to hire or rehire a worker who reported a violation
- Threatening, intimidating, or otherwise harassing an employee
If an employee has been terminated, laid off, or otherwise retaliated against as a result of reporting safety concerns, there are protocols in place for compensation. Firstly, the employee must file a complaint with OSHA describing the adverse action within 30 days of the action. Then, the Department of Labor will perform an investigation into the complaint. If there is a violation, the employer may be charged with labor violations in U.S. district court. Finally, the employer may be ordered to redress the action, including reinstating the employee to full employment with back pay.
It is important to speak up if you notice safety violations at work, and you should be confident in doing so. If you’ve been hurt on a New York City construction site, the experienced construction injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can help you hold the negligent party responsible for your lost income, medical care, permanent disability, and pain and suffering. Please contact us online or call us directly at 800.362.9329 to schedule your free initial consultation.
Can I be fired or blacklisted for pursuing a recovery for a maritime injury?
Many workers shy away from filing legitimate maritime injury claims when they are hurt because they are afraid that nobody in the industry will hire them again. This practice is often called “blacklisting” or “blackballing,” and it is an illegal practice. It is against the law for any employer or prospective employer to take negative action against an employee for filing an injury claim.
Don’t Let Fear Stand in The Way of Your Maritime Injury Claim
The maritime industry relies on the fear of a blacklist in order to prevent workers from filing claims. The fewer the claims, the less the company pays in benefits—and the greater the likelihood that the employee will be forced to continue working. The truth is that as long as your claim is legitimate, you should file it with impunity and with the expectation that you will recover the damages that you need and deserve.
By filing a claim, you and your attorney may secure:
- Fair payment. You have a right to be paid for your medical costs, income losses, and any out-of-pocket expenses related to your accident. You may even be entitled to punitive damages in a maritime case if your employer withheld your rightful payments.
- Future compensation. Many injured employees will carry lifelong physical limitations that will prevent them from earning a living in the future. An injury claim not only provides benefits for past losses—it can also provide compensation that allows you and your family to survive if you are unable to return to work.
- Improved conditions. Negligence in the workplace is likely to continue as long as an employer can get away with it. By holding an employer accountable for unsafe conditions, faulty equipment, or improper training, you can help ensure that your injury does not happen to someone else.
If you think that your employer is retaliating against you or you have questions about your right to compensation, please contact us online as soon as possible. Our New York and New Jersey maritime accident lawyers will give you an honest opinion about whether your maritime injury claim will hurt your chances of working again. Call us today at 1-800-362-9329 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Can people under the age of 18 work on New York City construction sites?
New York has strict rules concerning what workers under the age of 18 may do on construction sites. For instance, minors are prohibited from working or assisting in operations that involve roofing, demolition, excavating, sawing, shearing, and power-driven woodworking and metalworking. They also cannot clean, oil, or adjust belts on construction machinery, be exposed to dust from the manufacture of brick or tile, or perform painting and cleaning on an elevated surface. However, there may be some exceptions to these rules for certain kinds of underage employees in order to help prevent construction accidents.
Exceptions to NY Construction Site Laws Regarding Minors
If certain conditions are met, some underage workers may perform the above tasks. For example, these rules may not apply to 16 or 17-year-olds who are:
Apprentices. Apprenticeship allows workers to learn a skill or trade through on-the-job training. In order for an underage apprentice to perform any of the usually-prohibited activities, he or she must be in an approved program through the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), have a written contract with the employer, and be under the supervision of an experienced journey worker.
Students. Many students opt to learn construction trades through vocational training programs. Students who are completing an educational degree program may perform restricted maneuvers as part of their on-the-job training.
Trainees. Workers who have completed courses in an approved on-the-job training program through a public school or a non-profit institution and are at least 16 years old may perform some of the work normally prohibited as long as they have also received DOL-approved safety instruction.
Even if underage workers can legally perform dangerous work, safety standards must be met at all times to reduce the risk of injury. If you were under 18 years old when you were hurt on construction site you need to speak with an experienced work injury attorney as soon as possible. the New York and New Jersey injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can advise you of your rights. Contact us online or call us directly at 800.362.9329 to schedule your free consultation.
How long do I have to file a construction accident case in New York City?
Injured workers have a limited amount of time in which to get payment for an on-the-job injury. The time limits in these cases, known as the statute of limitations, varies depending on who is at fault and how the victim is seeking compensation. If the victim does not file a claim within the timeframe, he can be barred from collecting payment.
Time Limits on Filing a Construction Accident Case in New York City
Each state has its own statute of limitations for construction accident lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims. Many different factors play a role in how long you have to file a claim for injury compensation. For example, the time limit for filing a claim in New York is different for:
- Personal injury cases. If you are filing a construction site injury lawsuit against the owner of the property, the general contractor, a subcontractor, or another party, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a negligence claim.
- Death claims. Construction accident lawsuits involving the death of an employee have a smaller window of time than injury claims. Family members must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the accident or the date of death to collect compensation.
- Workers’ compensation. In order to get workers’ compensation, injured employees must report a construction accident injury within 30 days of the accident. Workers who have suffered an occupational illness must notify an employer within two years of the date of diagnosis or the date on which you learned that the disease could be work-related.
- Cases involving the city or state. If you are filing a case against a state agency, public authority, or other government entity in New York, you must notify the agency of your intentions within 90 days of the accident and file the lawsuit within 1 year and 90 days of the accident.
Even if you have a year or more to file your claim, it is best to file as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more evidence could be lost or destroyed—weakening your case and lengthening the amount of time you will wait for compensation. You owe it to yourself to speak with the experienced New York and New Jersey injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer as soon as possible. We can examine the details of your claim and send letters to ensure that the evidence in your case is preserved. Please contact us online or call us directly at 800.362.9329 to schedule your free consultation.
Am I Considered a Seaman?
Many injured maritime workers are unsure whether they qualify for “seaman” status under the Jones Act. This is an important issue, since only seamen are qualified to receive benefits under the Jones Act, including maintenance and cure benefits after an injury. While the definition of seaman varies somewhat, there are many factors a court will consider in determining seaman status.
Am I Considered a Seaman Under the Jones Act?
Generally speaking, a person who spends the majority of his or her time as a crew member aboard a vessel that floats on navigable waters is considered a seaman. However, each of these requirements should be examined closely to discover whether or not the Jones Act applies. For instance, benefits may or may not be awarded depending on:
You. A seaman must spend a significant amount of his or her employment contributing to the mission of his or her vessel. In most cases, this will mean spending at least 30 percent of work time aboard the vessel (or on several vessels in a fleet) and the rest of the work time helping to complete the vessel’s mission.
Your vessel. While nearly any kind of ship or boat can be considered a vessel under the Jones Act, the vessel must be afloat, capable of moving, and in operation to qualify an employee for benefits. It is important to recognize that a vessel does not actually have to be at sea or even moving for a crew member to be a seaman, but it must be capable of moving under its own power. For example, a ship in a drydock is not capable of moving and is therefore not covered under the Jones Act. Similarly, a newly-constructed vessel that is not yet in commercial operation does not meet the "in navigation" requirement, and is exempt from Jones Act coverage.
Your location. The Jones Act only covers employees on vessels that travel on navigable waters. “Navigable” waters are those that are used for interstate or foreign commerce, such as oceans, rivers, and lakes that act as a means of travel between states or countries.
If you work on the water but not on a vessel in navigation, you may still qualify for compensation under maritime laws. The New York and New Jersey maritime lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer can help determine how much you could be owed in benefits. Contact us online or call us directly at 800.362.9329 to schedule your free consultation.
Is a concussion a serious enough injury for me to contact a New York slip and fall lawyer after an accident?
Concussions, like other types of traumatic brain injuries, are unique. The injury, and the required recovery, may differ from one individual to another. Thus, for some New Yorkers a concussion may be a serious enough injury to require a call to a New York premises liability attorney, while for others the call may not be as important.
Generally, you may be able to recover damages for a concussion sustained in a New York or New Jersey slip and fall accident if the property owner’s (or manger’s) negligence caused your injury and you sustained damages as a result. For example, if you were out of work and lost income for several weeks after your concussion, or if you have medical bills to repay after a concussion, then it is important to contact a New York City slip and fall attorney for help getting the damages that you deserve.
If you have any hesitation about whether or not to call an attorney after a slip and fall concussion injury then we encourage you to call. You have nothing to lose by making the phone call, but you may lose your right to a fair recovery if you wait and do not contact a New York City fall injury attorney.
For more information about your rights and possible recovery we encourage you to contact us today at 1-800-362-9329 or via our online contact form.
What can I expect when I meet with a New York construction accident attorney?
When construction workers are injured or fall ill on the job, the law offers avenues to obtain the medical care and compensation that will help support their recovery. Many times, however, injured workers never find that resolution because they fail to retain experienced legal representation. There are many reasons why workers hesitate to reach out for legal help. They may not think they are eligible to file a legal claim or worry they cannot afford one, or they are concerned about possible repercussion to their employment. For some, they simply don’t know what to expect, and the fear of the unknown is overwhelming. Here, we offer some useful information about talking or meeting with a construction injury lawyer. Find out what you will discuss, what your responsibilities will be, and more.
Expect to Discuss Your Situation and Ask All Questions
As you prepare for your first meeting with a lawyer to discuss your construction accident injury, it is important to know what information you will need to share. You can expect to discuss:
- Your accident. We want to know everything that happened to you. We want to know what you noticed at the scene of the accident, who was there, what was said, and how you were hurt.
- Your injuries. We want to know what the doctors have told you about your current diagnosis, about your treatment, and about your prognosis.
- Your questions. We want to answer all of your questions so that you know what happens next and so that you are not left wondering anything about your possible case. Feel free to ask about the legal process, compensation available, your future job prospects, and anything else that may be worrying you.
At this meeting, injured workers should be honest and straightforward about their case. Not only is this necessary for preparing the strongest possible case, there is no risk in offering information. Even if you do not decide to move forward with a claim, your discussion is confidential and will remain between you and the attorney.
Many Attorneys Offer Free, No-Obligation Consultations
At Hofmann & Schweitzer, our legal team offers injured workers free, no-obligation consultations. You do not have to pay anything to have an initial meeting or phone consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. If you do not think legal representation is right for you after that meeting, you are free to walk away. Additionally, many law firms offer free resources and informational tools to help you learn more about your rights and legal options.
If you or someone you love has suffered a construction site injury, reach out to the experienced lawyers at Hofmann & Schweitzer to learn more about your rights and find out how we may be able to help. Call our New York office to schedule a consultation and have your questions answered.
The forklift operator keeps telling me he didn’t see me before he hit me. Is that a defense after a forklift accident on a construction site?
What the forklift operator is telling you may or may not be true. However, for purposes of this question and answer we will assume that the forklift operator is telling you the truth. He didn’t see you before you moved the forklift and caused you serious injury.
That Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Recover
You may be able to recover damages for the injuries you sustained in a construction site forklift accident—even if the forklift operator truly didn’t see you prior to the accident and feels horribly about what happened. Here’s why:
- Who was at fault may not matter to your workers’ compensation claim. Instead, you may be able to recover benefits regardless of who was at fault.
- "I didn’t see you" may not be a defense if you are filing a personal injury lawsuit against someone who does not work for your employer. Who was at fault does matter in this type of action. Thus, you and your lawyer will need to consider whether the forklift operator was negligent and whether it was that negligence that prevented the operator from seeing you prior to the accident. If the forklift operator was negligent then you may be able to recover for the damages you suffered in the accident.
Don’t let the forklift operator’s statement prevent you from getting the recovery that you deserve. Instead, find out the truth about your recovery from someone who is on your side. Read a copy of our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone , today to learn more.
Who Should I Submit My Medical Bills to That Resulted From an Injury on the Job?
Construction workers and Dockbuilders injured while working are entitled to disability benefits administered under either the New York State Workers' Compensation Law or under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, depending where the accident occurred. Doctor and hospital bills are submitted directly to the employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier. The right to workers' compensation does not require proving someone else was at fault for causing the accident. In that respect, payment of these benefits and your medical bills is "no-fault". If you are injured when not working, you may be entitled to some disability benefits under the New York State Disability Law.