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?

    If your injured while working as a dockbuilder or in any construction related accident, there are a number of things you should do immediately to protect your legal rights. Simply stated you should:
    1. Report your accident
    2. Get a copy of the accident report
    3. Take photographs
    4. Get witness names, addresses and phone numbers.
    5. Go to a doctor
    6. Call the law firm of Hofmann & Schweitzer

  • Is the Settlement That I Am Being Offered for My New York Construction Accident Injuries Fair?

    Without knowing all of the facts of your case and the specific settlement offer, our New York construction accident lawyers can’t tell you whether your individual settlement offer is fair. However, we can give you some things to think about before you accept a settlement offer so that you can determine whether the offer will fairly compensate you for your injuries.

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

    • All of your past, present and anticipated future medical expenses
    • Lost income
    • Permanent injuries that you may suffer from the accident
    • Other damages you’ve incurred as a result of your construction accident injury

    Remember, once you accept a settlement it is likely binding. That means that you won’t be able to recover additional money for the same accident injuries in the future. Accordingly, it is important to carefully consider any settlement offer that is made prior to accepting it.

    You don’t have to make this determination alone. You may consult with your family, your friends, and an experienced New York construction attorney before you decide whether or not to accept a settlement. If you have been hurt in a New York or New Jersey construction accident, then 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.

  • 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.

  • What happens when a safety violation is found on a Manhattan construction site?

    What happens next depends on who finds the safety violation and whether anyone was hurt because of it.

    For the moment, let’s consider what happens if a government agency, such as OSHA or the NYC Department of Buildings, finds a safety violation on a Manhattan construction site before an injury occurs. The safety violation may be found as the result of a routine inspection or because a construction worker, or other person, reported the suspected violation to the government.

    In either case, the government may impose fines, require that the safety violation be remedied, and issue a stop-work order on the site. These consequences are designed to both prevent Manhattan construction site accidents and deter construction companies from committing future safety violations.

    Sometimes, safety violations are only found when there is an investigation to find out why a Manhattan construction worker was injured. In these cases, the government may issue the same consequences that were described above. Additionally, the injured construction worker may be able to recover damages from through the New York workers’ compensation system or a personal injury lawsuit.

    Safety regulations exist to protect construction workers and, accordingly, safety violations on Manhattan construction sites must be taken seriously. If you suspect a safety violation on your construction site then we urge you to talk to your supervisor and/or the government to get the situation remedied before someone gets hurt.

    If you’ve already been hurt then we extend our best wishes to you for a full and fast recovery and we encourage you to read our FREE pamphlet, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone, to find out more about what to do next.

  • My husband didn’t die immediately after his commercial fishing injury. How does that affect my family’s rights?

    Sometimes the head injury, spinal cord injury, or other injury suffered on a commercial fishing vessel seriously hurts a fisherman, but it doesn’t kill him right away. Instead, he may suffer for days, weeks, or even months before the injury becomes fatal.

    This situation is often devastating for the surviving family members. You are not only mourning the loss of your loved one, but you also had to watch him suffer.

    It Is Important to Know Your Rights

    Even if your husband didn’t die immediately after the injuries he suffered while fishing for cod, shrimp, or other fish off the Atlantic Coast, your family may still be able to recover damages for his death. The law that applies to your family’s case will depend on a number of factors, including where your husband’s injury occurred.

    However, the outcome may be the same. If you can prove that your husband died as a result of the injury that he suffered at sea then you may be able to recover damages for his death. These damages may be important to your family. The damages may help you maintain your standard of living by compensating you for the income your husband can no longer earn and by paying for his medical bills, funeral costs, and other damages.

    To learn more about what you can do to protect your family’s future during this difficult time, please start an online chat with us today. We would be pleased to give you more information about your rights so that you can make an informed decision about the future.

  • How Do You Get a Maritime Accident Report From a Difficult Employer?

    It can be frustrating when an employer withholds important information from you after you’ve been injured at sea. You may be angry that your employer seems adversarial and unwilling to provide you the fair damages that the law allows you to recover for injuries sustained while working on your boat.

    You Should be Concerned If Your Employer Won’t Let You See the Report

    It could mean that your employer has something to hide. Maybe the report has a different version of the accident than the one you reported, or perhaps the report expresses doubt about the true extent of your injuries. If you do not know these things then you may later be blindsided by your employer during your attempt to recover fair damages.

    Get Help Now

    You shouldn’t have to deal with the stress of trying to track down a maritime accident report while you are recuperating at Ocean Medical Center or another New Jersey hospital. Instead, you have the right to contact an experienced maritime injury lawyer who can take over the fight for you. While you concentrate on your physical recovery, your lawyer can get a copy of the accident report and take the other steps necessary to protect your legal rights and possible recovery.

    For more information about your rights and protecting your recovery, please read our FREE publication: Are You a Seaman Injured in a Maritime Accident? Know Your Rights. We also encourage you to watch our free videos to learn more.

  • If I Am Injured at Sea Am I Required to See a Company Doctor?

    No, there is no provision of the Jones Law that requires an injured seaman to receive treatment from a company doctor. In fact, company doctors may have an interest in getting you back to work sooner than you ready. To that end, some company doctors may fail to order the necessary tests to determine the true extent of your injuries, or they may advise you that, despite your injuries, you are able to return to your job.

    In order to avoid these potential problems, our New York and New Jersey maritime injury lawyers suggest that injured seamen obtain treatment from an independent doctor whom they trust. Your doctor should be appropriately qualified and fair in his or her assessment of your injuries.

    If your employer attempts to require you to see a company doctor, or if you have any questions about your rights as an injured seaman, please contact the New Jersey and New York maritime accident attorneys at Hofmann & Schweitzer for more information.

  • How Long Does It Take to Get Hypothermia in Cold Water?

    The amount of time that it takes to develop hypothermia depends on the temperature of the water and the type of protective gear that is worn while in the water. Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

    The Timeline of Hypothermia

    Image of ice cold water depicting hypothermia risks for maritime workers

    Hypothermia can happen within minutes of falling into cold water, but the symptoms generally develop gradually.

    When the water temperature is 40 degrees or below, serious injury can result in as little as a few minutes. Even in water temperatures approaching 50 degrees, death can occur within the first hour of cold water immersion. Although your body fat, protective gear, and many other factors influence how long someone can survive in cold water, here are some general guidelines:

    • At a water temperature of 32.5 degrees, death may occur in under 15 - 45 minutes.
    • At a water temperature of 32.5 to 40 degrees, death may occur in 30 - 90 minutes.
    • At a water temperature of 40 to 50 degrees, death may occur in 1 - 3 hours.
    • At a water temperature of 50 - 60 degrees, death may occur in 1 - 6 hours.
    • At a water temperature of 60 - 70 degrees, death may occur in 2 - 40 hours.

    What Is The Typical Medical Treatment For Hypothermia After A Fall Into Cold Water

    Maritime workers are at risk for hypothermia when they fall into cold water. Hypothermia is a potentially fatal condition that must be treated quickly. If you, or a loved one, have suffered the consequences of hypothermia, then it is important to contact a New York maritime lawyer for more information about your rights.

    It is also important to know what to do as soon as hypothermia is suspected. If a maritime worker has fallen overboard into cold water, then it is important to immediately call for emergency help. Treatment can, and often should, begin prior to help arriving. For example, the person suffering from hypothermia should be moved to a warm, dry location, provided with warm blankets and a warm beverage, if possible.

    Once the worker is in the care of trained medical professionals, blood re-warming, warm IV fluids, and other warming techniques may be used to treat the worker.

    If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one due to hypothermia, then you may be entitled to damages. Speak with a New York maritime lawyer at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY today for more information.

  • If My Employer or an Insurance Company Offers Me Money. Do I still need a lawyer?

    If my employer, or an insurance company, offers me money after a New York maritime accident then do I still need to contact a New York maritime injury lawyer?

    A maritime employer, or the employer’s insurer, may offer you a settlement soon after your maritime injury. The settlement may sound good to you – especially if you are out of work and need money quickly to pay your bills and medical expenses. Some of these settlement offers may be made in good faith. However, not all of these maritime accident settlement offers will consist of fair and equitable compensation for your accident injuries.

    In order to know if the offer being made is fair and equitable given the specific injuries that you suffered, it is important to contact an experienced New York Jones Act attorney. A New York Jones Act lawyer not only knows what a fair settlement should be under the law, but will also fight for your personal recovery. Your employer and your employer’s insurer do not have a similar obligation to look out for your best interest. Instead, they may be looking out for their own best interests and that may be to get you to agree to a lower settlement amount.

    You have nothing to lose by contacting a New York maritime injury attorney, but you have a lot to lose by not contacting a lawyer. For more information, please call the experienced maritime injury lawyers of Hofmann & Schweitzer at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY or 1-800-362-9329. We also encourage you to learn more about your rights and possible recovery in our FREE publication, The Legal Rights of Injured Seamen and Other Commercial Mariners.