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Court Rules That Workers’ Compensation Principles Should Be Applied to At-Home Workers

In a recent decision from New York State’s Third Department of their Appellate Division, workers’ compensation claims from employees working from home must be decided using the long-standing definitions of what constitutes a “short break” or what is “work-related” or personal. The decision came from the recent case, In the Matter of the Claim of Christopher Capraro, Appellant, versus Matrix Absence Management et al., Respondents. Workers’ Compensation Board, Respondent.

In 2016, the claimant, Christopher Capraro, ordered office furniture to use in a home office for his new job. His employer informed Capraro that the company would not reimburse him for the furniture as they had already provided him with the necessary computer equipment for the role. When the unassembled furniture was delivered in boxes on June 13, 2016, Capraro attempted to haul them into his home. In the process, he injured himself. In 2017, Capraro filed for workers’ compensation benefits, claiming the injury sustained in carrying the boxes of furniture caused him to stop working.

The Workers’ Compensation Law Judge assigned to his claim denied it, finding that his injuries did not arise from a sufficiently work-related activity. Capraro appealed the decision to a panel of the Workers’ Compensation Board, which upheld the Law Judge’s decision, despite one board member’s dissent.

Capraro then appealed to the full Workers’ Compensation Board, which upheld the previous decision. Capraro appealed a third time to the New York Appellate Division, Third Department. In a ruling published by the Appellate Division on Oct. 22, 2020, the appeals division determined that the previous denials for workers’ compensation benefits were based on a new, overly strict set of standards.

Home Residence as a Place of Employment

According to the appeals division’s statement, “a ‘regular pattern of work at home’ renders the employee’s residence ‘a place of employment’ as much as any traditional workplace maintained by the employer.” Therefore, Capraro was injured during his regular work shift at his workplace and should be considered for workers’ compensation based on the traditional set of standards.

As a result, the appeals court remitted the decision back to the Workers’ Compensation Board to assess Capraro’s claim using the long-established standard. In remitting the decision back to the Workers’ Compensation Board, the appeals court recommended that the Board accept that a “short break or some similar ‘momentary deviation from the work routine for a customary and accepted purpose’ does not constitute an interruption in employment sufficient to bar a claim for benefits.” Therefore, Capraro did not sufficiently interrupt his work time when moving the boxes.

Contact a New York Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you were injured while working from home, you may be wondering whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Our attorneys can help you develop a compelling case and secure the maximum compensation you deserve. Call the New York City workers’ compensation attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP to see how much your case might be worth. Our number is (212) 779-0057.


What you need to know about toxic mold

Mold is a relatively common occurrence in homes and buildings, especially in dark, damp areas such as basements and bathrooms. Generally, the presence of mold is harmless, if unsightly. But certain types of mold, if present in large enough amounts, can pose a health risk to people living or working in that building. This could give rise to a premises liability or workers’ compensation case.

What type of mold is harmful?

Chances are, you’ve spotted at least a tiny bit of mold in your own bathroom. This won’t cause you any harm. But two well-known types of mold can potentially be dangerous if they are present in high concentrations.

The first is Stachybotrys chartarum, or black mold. Black mold usually grows after a building has been flooded because it needs constant hydration to flourish, according to the CDC. Black mold can be toxigenic, meaning it releases toxins from its spores. For someone with preexisting health conditions, these toxins could take a severe toll.

The second type of harmful mold is aspergillus, which is less dangerous than black mold but more common. Like black mold, aspergillus grows in buildings that have been flooded and can cause health complications for people who already have asthma or allergies.

What are the symptoms of mold poisoning?

If you have been exposed to a high concentration of toxic mold for a prolonged period, the chances are that you have developed a mold-related illness. According to Healthline, these symptoms usually mirror those of a cold or flu and could be fatal for people with asthma or lung problems.

Common symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy, red skin and eyes

If you have allergies or asthma, you may experience:

  • Chest colds
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Exhaustion
  • Persistent coughing at night
  • Headaches

Contact a New York toxic mold lawyer

If you contracted illness because toxic mold existed in your home or workplace, be sure to speak with an attorney right away. The legal team at Hach & Rose, LLP could help you determine if you have a valid personal injury claim and could help you get the justice you’re owed. Call us at (212) 779-0057 to discuss your legal options today.


Why Do Construction Accidents Go Unreported?

Working on a construction site naturally comes with a significant risk of injury. Though it would benefit the injured construction worker to report the accident, both to get workers’ compensation and to push for a safer work environment, many injured workers never report their injuries. In 2013, the Center for Construction Research and Training conducted a survey of 135 construction workers to determine why they don’t always report their injuries. At least ¼ of them said they suffered a workplace injury but chose not to report it.

It is important to remember that reporting your injuries will not backfire on you in any way, especially if you hire a personal injury attorney to represent you during the process.

Reasons why construction workers choose not to report workplace injuries

  1. Employees fear retaliation from their employers such as loss of benefits or even loss of their job
  2. Many construction workers consider pain and injury to be a natural part of their job
  3. They didn’t want their supervisors or coworkers to view them as weak
  4. Many people do not understand how to fill out or file the paperwork associated with workers’ compensation
  5. Undocumented workers often fear deportation or legal repercussions if they report an injury (regardless of immigration status, injured workers will not be deported)
  6. Workers often downplay the severity of their injuries
  7. Workers feel that they cannot afford missing work to go to a doctor, undergo surgery, and take time to recover

Generally speaking, workers have two years to file a workers’ compensation claim after the date of their accident. It’s important to file a report with your site supervisor as soon as the accident occurs so you can claim compensation and have a paper trail in case you need to go to court later. A personal injury attorney will help you through the process and ensure that your employers don’t take advantage of your injury.

Contact a New York construction accident lawyer

If you were injured at a construction site, you are entitled to workers’ compensation and may be able to file a civil lawsuit for additional damages. No injured worker should face intimidation or any other roadblock to seeking compensation. Contact a New York construction accident lawyer to discuss your rights and legal options. Our number is (347) 318-9604 or you can reach out to us online 24/7.


What is Occupational Asthma?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, occupational asthma is a bigger problem than many people realize. Occupational asthma, also referred to as workplace asthma, develops because of workplace conditions and causes wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness. It is the most common workplace lung disease in the United States. 

Who is at risk?

The workers who are most at risk of developing occupational asthma are the ones who are exposed to a group of harmful chemicals called isocyanates, according to OSHA. These jobs include:

  • Car manufacturers
  • Textile workers
  • Painters
  • Printmakers
  • Furniture manufacturers
  • Rubber and plastic manufacturers
  • Electric cable insulators

What are the signs?

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Burning of the eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose

How to prevent occupational asthma

Employees can work to avoid developing occupational asthma by avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals and allergens when possible, though this may not always be a viable option for every worker. If you notice signs of asthma, such as shortness of breath or wheezing, report it to your employer and get help from your doctor immediately. Occupational asthma is treatable if it is caught early.

Employers can protect their employees from developing occupational asthma by adhering to the safety guidelines developed by OSHA, eliminate harmful allergens and chemicals from the workplace, and offer employee training on how to recognize workplace hazards.

Because occupational asthma is a lung disease that may develop over months or years, a worker may not recognize their symptoms until much later. But occupational asthma is a condition that, if left untreated, could severely impact the worker’s quality of life and productivity.

Contact a New York workers’ rights lawyer

If you developed occupational asthma as a result of improper working conditions, you may be owed worker’s compensation benefits and other forms of compensation. The workplace illness lawyers of Hach & Rose, LLP understand New York labor laws and will help you get the workers’ compensation benefits or third-party injury compensation you might be owed. Call us at (347) 318-9604 to schedule your free consultation today.


Top ten most commonly violated OSHA standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, dictates certain workplace guidelines and standards that must be met by employers. Of course, employers break these rules and fall short of these standards constantly, which is why there are so many workplace accidents in America.

Each year, OSHA rounds up the standards that employers most commonly violated during the past fiscal year and publishes them. The 2019 list was published in Safety and Health Magazine.

Below is OSHA’s top 10 list, which remained basically unchanged from the 2018 list. Numbers 1, 3, 6, and 10 on the list apply specifically to construction sites, while the other items relate to employers in general.

  1. Fall Protection, Standard 1926.501
  2. Hazard Communication, Standard 1910.1200
  3. Scaffolding, Standard 1926.451
  4. Lockout /Tagout, Standard 1910.147
  5. Respiratory Protection, Standard 1910.134
  6. Ladders, Standard 1926.1053
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks, Standard 1910.178
  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements, Standard 1926.503
  9. Machine Guarding, Standard 1910.212
  10. Eye and Face Protection, Standard 1926.102

Time and again, employers violate the same OSHA standards, putting their employees at risk. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “There were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2018.” According to the report, construction was the third most-dangerous occupation, following agriculture, fishing, and hunting and mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction.

Contact a New York City construction accident attorney

If you have been injured on the worksite because of your employer’s carelessness or reckless actions, know that you have a right to compensation. The construction accident attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP are prepared to represent you and win you the compensation you deserve. We handle scaffolding accidents, crane collapses, unsafe worksite conditions, and more. In the past, we won $13,000,000 for a client who fell from a ladder and suffered a TBI. Let us handle your case so you can focus on your physical and emotional healing. Call our office at (347) 318-9604 to discuss your legal options today.


Understanding the workers’ compensation process in New York

If you have been injured on the job, you are likely entitled to claim workers’ compensation benefits from your employer’s workers’ comp policy. New York State requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, with limited exceptions. This coverage must be carried and maintained and must cover all employees, even part-time workers, and family members who are employed by the company. 

What types of injuries qualify me for workers’ compensation?

Any injury you sustain while on the job gives you the right to workers’ compensation. This could be a slip and fall, a laceration, muscle strain, or getting hit by falling debris, such as on a construction site. However, workers’ compensation is not afforded if you were injured outside the scope of the workplace, such as when you are driving to and from work, or driving between work sites. Additionally, occupational diseases that develop because of working conditions, such as mesothelioma and hearing loss, entitle you to workers’ compensation. 

What if I have already been injured on the job?

If you have been injured at your place of work, you must file a report to your employer in writing within 30 days of the accident. If you file after the 30-day window, you may lose your right to compensation. Regarding occupational disease, you must report it within two years of discovering that the illness arose from your working environment. Your employer will provide you with a C-3 form that you must fill out and mail to the Workers’ Compensation Board. Your employer will fill out a C-2 form with information about your claim and send it to the Workers’ Compensation Board and the employer’s insurance carrier. 

Can I see my regular doctor for treatment?

You may be able to receive treatment from your doctor, but you need to check that they are authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Board to treat injured workers and that they are in your employer’s Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). Otherwise, the employer’s insurance carrier might not be able to cover the medical bill from that visit. You can visit this website to check if your doctor is authorized to treat injured workers by the Compensation Board. 

When you need an attorney

You may need to consult an attorney if you need assistance with filing your worker’s compensation claim or if you decide to appeal a decision that you disagree with that was made by your employer or their insurance carrier. For example, you can appeal the insurance’s decision to deny your claim. 

If you decide to make an appeal of any kind, call the experienced New York workers’ compensation attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP. Our team can help you navigate the workers’ compensation process and get you the benefits you deserve. Call us at Hach & Rose, LLP to discuss your options today. 


How to Avoid Common Ergonomic and Repetitive Stress Injuries

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), adapting tasks, workstations, tools, and equipment to fit the employee can help reduce stress on the body and eliminate potentially harmful workplace musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Every year, MSDs account for more than $15 billion in workers’ compensation costs. It is up to the employer to ensure they are creating a safe office space. 

MSD problems can result from the following: repetitive movements, sitting in awkward positions or straining your neck because a screen isn’t correctly placed, and static postures with little breaks to stretch the muscles.

OSHA provided an eTool to educate on healthy ways to reduce ergonomic injuries in the office space. Some solutions are the following: 

  • Make sure the chair, keyboard, and monitor are in a straight line with your body;
  • Use an adjustable keyboard tray to position your keyboard and mouse at a comfortable height, placing the mouse and keyboard as close as possible to your body to avoid reaching;
  • Maintain a relaxed, neutral posture and sit up straight to provide firm back support;
  • Allow your arms to hang loosely at the shoulders;
  • Keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle while typing;
  • Adjust the chair’s height so that your feet are firmly on the ground.

Many people don’t realize how debilitating a repetitive motion injury can be until they suffer one. Workers can find it difficult or impossible to return to the job until they’ve healed, and some might find that they can never perform those functions the same way again. If you’ve developed a condition due to repetitive motions on the job, you could be entitled to claim workers’ compensation benefits from your employers’ insurance policy. Securing this compensation is not always simple or straightforward however.

Contact a New York Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you’ve suffered a RSI while at work in New York, contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at Hach & Rose, LLP for help. Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (212) 779-0057 or by reaching out online today.


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