On-the-job construction injuries in New York City are frighteningly common. Yet workers often have little idea what their options are in terms of compensation.
Generally, injured workers may have the option of short-term disability benefits, long-term disability benefits, workers’ compensation and possibly Social Security Disability Insurance, depending on the severity of the injuries and the expected recovery time.
Another possibility to consider is filing a third-party injury lawsuit. The recent case of Auqui v. Seven Thirty One Ltd. Partnership, decided Dec. 10, 2013 in the Court of Appeals in New York, illustrates the importance of having an experienced injury lawyer as you navigate these proceedings.
In the Auqui case, the plaintiff was injured during the course of his employment when he was struck in the head by a sheet of plywood that fell to the sidewalk from a building that was under construction on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.
He suffered injuries to his head, back and neck and was subsequently diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The plaintiff moved to collect workers’ compensation benefits from his employer, which he was successful in securing. Several months later, he also filed a lawsuit against several defendants, including the owner of the premises, the project manager for the construction project and the concrete superstructure subcontractor.
The following year, the insurance company for the plaintiff’s employer requested a hearing that requested a discontinuation of his workers’ compensation benefits. A hearing was held before an administrative law judge, who granted the request. The plaintiff sought a review of that decision, though it was ultimately upheld by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board. He then sought a review before the state supreme court. That court as well affirmed that decision, finding that the plaintiff had been given a full and fair opportunity to present his case, and he was therefore precluded from further litigating the issue.
The appellate court reversed, holding that the defendant’s failed to establish that the issue decided in the workers’ compensation proceeding was the same as what was presented in the negligence action.
Workers’ compensation claims and negligence actions have two very different burdens of proof. Workers’ compensation claims are meant to be more immediate than negligence actions. Further, workers’ compensation injury benefits are not predicated on whether the employer was at-fault, only that the injury occurred in the course of one’s employment. It is intended to prevent the person from becoming destitute.
Negligence actions, meanwhile, require that the plaintiff prove the defendant was at-fault. The burden of proof is generally higher and the goal is not to prevent poverty, but rather to make the injured party whole.
Pressing forward with both actions simultaneously can result in unexpected challenges. Having an experienced injury lawyer to help you determine the best course of action is almost always worth the investment.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Auqui v. Seven Thirty One Ltd. Partnership, Dec. 10, 2013, Court of Appeals, New York
More Blog Entries:
Construction Worker Injured in Queens Excavation Project, July 27, 2013, New York City Construction Accident Lawyer Blog