by Michael Rose
New York requires employers to carry Workers’ Compensation. It is insurance that covers full-time, part-time, temporary, and even undocumented employees. Employees are automatically eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits when injured on the job. Workers’ Compensation benefits generally cover all medical expenses associated with the injury and lost wages, classified as “economic damages.” This differs from Personal Injury lawsuits, where an accident victim can recover for “non-economic damages” from the culpable party. This article discusses when an injured person can recover compensation from an employer due to negligence.
Non-economic damages often make up a significant portion of accident victims’ recovery, if not the majority. These damages refer to pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and their full wages and benefits not covered by Workers’ Compensation.
While Workers’ Compensation benefits provide injured workers physical and financial relief, it also relinquishes workers’ rights to sue their employer for negligence – with a widely overlooked exception that provides injured workers an opportunity to recover for non-economic damages when all else fails.
New York Compensation Law § 11 exposes employers to liability when an employee suffers a “grave injury.” The statute provides:
This list is exhaustive and narrowly construed. For example, in Castro v. United Container Machinery Group, the Court of Appeals of New York held that loss of multiple fingertips is not covered under the statute as “’ loss of multiple fingers’ cannot sensibly be read to mean partial loss of multiple fingers.” One year later, in Meis v. ELO Organization, the Court further held that the loss of a thumb is not a covered body part since it is neither a finger nor can it be interpreted to mean the total loss of use of a hand.
Proving Grave Injuries
Proving complex cases with high burdens is costly and time-consuming, but both are necessary to succeed – especially in cases involving grave injuries. This is because those culpable will be relentless in their defense, as the more serious an injury is, the more financially exposed the liable parties are. Additionally, in grave injury lawsuits, every culpable party is fully responsible for non-economic damages, regardless of their relative culpability. This means a gravely injured victim can hold their employer responsible for the full amount of their non-economic losses if the other party has insufficient insurance coverage.
While penetrating the significant protections Workers’ Compensation laws provide employers coupled with their ruthless defense may seem hopeless, there are ways injured workers can get a real shot at receiving the compensation and justice they deserve. The first and most important decision will be who will be representing their interests. Law firms often discourage injured workers from pursuing the actual value of their case because they would rather make money off quantity than quality. Those firms pressure you to accept the first offer made. They refuse to spend thousands of dollars to retain crucial experts. Their attorneys do not possess the necessary expertise for the cases they obtain. They are not trial lawyers and will settle for a fraction of the cash value before seeing the inside of a courtroom – the list goes on. You are better off hiring an experienced Personal Injury law firm that utilizes every available resource. One that prepares every case as if it is going to trial. And aggressively fights for its clients to ensure their rights are protected.
Hach & Rose Has Recovered Millions for Injured Workers
Since its inception over 16 years ago, Hach & Rose, LLP has specialized in workplace accidents. The firm obtained a jury verdict of thirteen million dollars for an injured painter who fell from a ladder. He sustained a traumatic brain injury due to inadequate safety measures. In this case, the injured person’s employer was found responsible under the Grave Injury Statute. While the attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP understand money can never remedy the wrong done, they do understand by fighting relentlessly for the rights of injured workers during their – and their families’ – most difficult time of their lives will provide them with the closest possible alternative.
Hach & Rose, LLP has continuously proven there is no distance too great or burden too high that cannot be surmounted when passion and skill are inextricably invested in each and every client’s case. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, protect your rights by calling Hach & Rose, LLP at (212) 779-0057 for a free consultation with one of our accident attorneys.