What Are Top Misconceptions About Construction Accident Claims?
The biggest misconception is that people think that they only get comp. A lot of people don’t realize there are all these other remedies out there that can protect them and there are these other laws under which they can bring a lawsuit and get compensated for what they went through.
Another misconception we see, particularly among the immigrant community and undocumented immigrants, is that they can’t sue because they arrived here illegally. We’ve handled a number of these cases successfully and the courts were pretty clear that the immigration status doesn’t matter because if you get hurt in the construction site in New York, that means that someone didn’t comply with the labor laws.
New York courts have taken the position that we care more about worker’s safety than we do about whether or not the worker was here illegally. New York courts have unambiguously held that if you’re here illegally, you can sue for a labor law violation. Not only that, a number of courts have held that our clients don’t even have to answer the question on what their immigration status is.
What Are the Possible Damages Recoverable from a Construction Accident Claim?
Certainly in any construction accident case, you’re entitled to pain and sufferings, you’re also entitled to your full lost wages not just workers comp, you’re entitled to medical bills. For example, if you can prove that you have ongoing medical needs or ongoing needs in the future, you can get an award for future medical needs.
We’ve seen a lot of cases where someone’s permanently disabled. You’re entitled to get your lost earnings for the course of your work life. If someone was a carpenter and was making $50 an hour and now they can only do part-time work or light labor and can only make $20 an hour, we usually work with economist and vocational experts to be able to prepare a projection that shows the difference between what they made before the accident and what they can make now. We’re then able to make a claim for the difference between what they can make before and what they can make now, and your projection throughout the course of your work life.
Can Counseling for Injuries Sustained at a Construction Accident be Recoverable in Damages?
Yes. Obviously, you certainly recover all the elements, but in general, there has to be someone credible. If you have a small injury, you are going to a doctor or a therapist. If you had a major life-changing event where you live in pain certainly people understand that depression can come from an injury and from disability, or if you’re involved in a flash fire or explosion or you were shocked with electricity, certainly all kinds of anxiety and post-traumatic stress can occur, and certainly all elements that the law recognizes as recoverable where it’s still tied to the accident.
Can Someone File a Lawsuit for Injuries Sustained Even if They are Getting Workers’ Compensation?
Definitely! The workers compensation does not bar a lawsuit. Let’s get a little bit into the intricacies of what typically will happen is workers comp will have what’s called a lien or an interest in lien repaid a portion of what they pay the injured worker.
For example, if you sue the general contractor and worker’s comp has given you medical liens benefits, you’d claim your full medical bills and full wages as part of the lawsuit but then comp would be entitled to a partial reimbursement out of your settlement or out of your recovery. So, receiving workers compensation doesn’t prevent you from bringing a lawsuit, but they basically actually do have an interest in it.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Construction Accident Claim?
In general, a construction accident claim has a statute of limitations is 3 years. There are exceptions where, for example, if you’re on a public property such as a bridge or if you’re working on a city building or like a housing authority building, those requirements are the same as any other claim which is brought under the general municipal law, so you have to file a notice of claim within 90 days of the accident and then you had to sue them within a year or 90 days.
Is that Different than General Personal Injury Case?
The statute of limitations for municipals and authorities, public authorities is not different than the general personal injury cases. That’s generally the statute of limitations for all municipal cases against public entities. Obviously, the cause of action is same because it’s specific to construction accidents but the statute of limitations is in the general municipal law and it’s a special rule for public authorities and cities, towns etc.
In certain cases, that may not apply because there is amount of time in general, maybe there is a cause of action for someone who is actually working. There are some cases before the appellate courts which are making that determination, but usually a lot of the cases under federal law or general negligence law under the general maritime law come up within 3 years and they do not require a notice of claim.
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