Automobile Hit From the Rear

In this age of high stress, multi-tasking, and rushing, it is no wonder that driver inattention is widespread.  Construction on interstate highways and thruways can often cause not only delays, but obstructions that leave traffic stopped in their lane of travel, with little or no warning for the vehicles that are approaching at a high speed from behind.

This situation often leads to high speed rear end collisions, in which the stopped vehicle and its occupants are virtually helpless to avoid the impact.   These crashes often lead to injuries requiring medical treatment.  The driver who strikes your vehicle from behind, in almost all situations, can be held responsible for these injuries.  Often, the insurance company for the offending driver will contact the injured person early on, before the extent of the injuries is known, and encourages a small settlement to release their insured.  It is important not to accept a settlement until the extent of your injuries are know, because once you settle, you cannot receive anything further, even if your injury turns out to be worse that you first thought.

Your no-fault policy, which is part of your motor-vehicle insurance, will pay for all medical evaluation and treatment that is considered a result of the accident.  It is important to let your insurance company know of the accident as soon as possible, so that they can send you the no-fault application, which is a relatively easy form to complete.  Once the no-fault coverage is up and running, you can supply this claim information to most medical providers who will bill your no-fault directly for treatment they provide.

It is important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident, as well.  The lawyer can assist you in evaluating the extent of your injury, and correspond directly with the offending driver’s insurance company on your behalf, to confirm coverage issues, look into supplemental insurance, and generally level the playing field in dealing with the insurance company, and insure that your interests are protected.    Contact and speak with an attorney immediately.

Injured Delivery Drivers on Workers Compensation May Have Additional Remedy

When a delivery driver sustains an injury during the course of his or her employment which is serious enough to cause disability from work, a Workers Compensation Claim is the first remedy that must be explored.  Workers Compensation will pay for related medical treatment and a portion of wages to help stave off bill collectors, and give the worker a fighting chance to maintain his or her current lifestyle.  However, the wage benefits will not fully match prior earnings before the injury.  This is the only claim that can be made against an employer.  Nothing further can be sought from the employer, even if it was the employer’s negligence in having an unsafe warehouse or vehicle, or by assigning unreasonable tasks, which caused the injury.

Therefore, the injured worker should consult legal counsel to determine whether the injury was caused by the negligence of a party other than the employer.  For instance, when delivery personnel enter the property of a retail store to deliver merchandise, the store has a duty to provide safe working conditions to this worker, just as it would to its own employees.  If the merchandise must be unloaded into the interior of the store, the store must provide safe passage that is suitable for not only the delivery personnel, but the equipment they are likely to use, such as hand-trucks or carts.  If the delivery personnel must enter the store from outside in bad weather, the store owes a duty to have mats or slip resistant surfaces that will allow safe delivery of often heavy or cumbersome merchandise.

If delivery personnel are injured while delivering construction materials such as lumber, drywall, piping or tools to a jobsite where construction, demolition or renovation were currently being performed, they may also benefit from the New York State Labor Law.  This law may hold a general contractor or owner of the property liable for the injuries if they resulted from an unsafe worksite, the delivery of the product was necessary for the furtherance of the project, and the delivery was to a location on the site that was actively under construction, demolition or renovation.

Delivery personnel who sustain disabling injuries on the job are well served to explore all avenues of recovery, in addition to Workers Compensation, which only provides a very basic level of financial protection that is often inadequate to sustain all of the injured worker’s financial obligations.  The circumstance of the injury should be closely examined to determine whether the injury was the result of a failure of a party, other than the employer, to provide the accepted level of occupational safety to the injured worker during the course of the delivery.

Labor Law May Fill The Workers Compensation Wage Gap

Although far from perfect, New York State Workers Compensation Law provides a partial safety net for individuals who are injured during the course of their job by providing wages based on the level of disability, and the payment of related medical bills.  These benefits may help the injured worker stave off bill collectors and mortgage foreclosures, until they recover sufficiently to return to their usual employment.  The law requires that the employer provide this protection.  In turn, the injured worker is not allowed to make any additional claims against the employer for the injury, even if the injury resulted from the employer’s failure to provide a safe work place or conditions.

However, a finding of “partial disability” by the Workers Compensation Board will result in a substantial reduction in wage benefits, well below those usually earned, even if the injured worker is still not physically able to return to his or her job.   This can be devastating to their financial circumstance, especially in the arena of construction, renovation or demolition accidents, where the injuries tend to be more serious and longstanding due to the nature of the work.  The resulting Workers Compensation “wage gap” may leave the injured worker desperate to maintain payments on his or her home, vehicle, and other longstanding financial obligations.

Fortunately, New York State Labor law may provide an avenue for additional financial compensation when a worker involved in construction, renovation or demolition work is injured.  For example, in circumstances where a specific New York State Industrial Code provision is violated on the job-site, and injury results, the general contractor and owner may be held responsible for the violation even if they are not actively supervising the site, and did not cause the violation.  The law holds them accountable regardless, because they are in the best position to have enforced safety standards, and stand in the position to gain the most from the completed project.

Similarly, if a worker involved in construction, renovation or demolition is injured as a result of a fall from a height due to the failure to have adequate safeguards such as railings or guards on upper floors under construction, the general contractor and owner may be held “strictly Liable” for this injury.  This means that the injured worker’s actions prior to and at the time of the fall cannot be used against him or her to reduce a damage award, as long as the worker was generally engaged in the assigned work.  The Labor Law was designed this way, recognizing that workers are human, and may fumble at times.  Therefore, if a fall from a height could have been prevented by the expected and customary safeguards that were not in place, the general contractor and owner will be held accountable.

When it comes to construction, demolition or renovation accidents, Workers Compensation issues must be addressed first, so that initial wage benefits, and medical treatment and evaluation can be provided for.  In the case of serious injury, the other avenue of recovery, The New York State Labor Law, must be addressed to determine whether other entities involved with the job site may be held liable for your injury.  This can make the difference between   “just hanging on” financially, or continuing to provide for yourself and your family in the way in which you are accustomed.

Car Accident Caused by Medical Emergency

Although the act of driving a motor vehicle is a privilege dispensed by the State, most people consider it a right and a necessity in our ever expanding communities.  When to give up this privilege due to age or infirmity is one of the most difficult decisions that most all of us will need to make at some point in our lives.

Although physicians are often aware that a patient’s condition may affect their ability to drive, or worse yet, result in a catastrophic attack or illness during the course of driving, the decision when to stop is usually left to the patient.  When the individual relies on driving to maintain independence, which is likely a positive factor for maintaining positive outlook and quality of life, it may be necessary for family and friends to offer support and alternatives to driving, to make the decision easier.

Unfortunately, in the tragic circumstance when an infirm driver causes harm to another by losing control of a vehicle during a heart attack or seizure, the victim my not be able to collect compensation for serious injuries from the infirm driver’s insurance company, if the insurer considers the attack or seizure to have been an “unforeseeable medical emergency”.  For example, Under New York State Law, a medical emergency would be considered “unforeseeable” in the circumstance when the driver had no known illnesses, and had a first time attack while driving.

Yet, a medical emergency may be considered “foreseeable” in a situation where the driver had prior similar attacks, failed to take all of his or her prescribed medication, or where a known condition made it likely that an attack was to occur.  In this instance, the driver would still be considered “negligent”, despite the fact that the accident was caused by a medical emergency.

The elderly and infirm should be encouraged to consider their decision to drive or not to drive carefully.  This will avoid the heartache and loss to both the driver and the victim which results when one loses control of their vehicle due to medical circumstances.

Avoid Nursing Home Neglect

When a family member is entrusted with arranging for a parent or relative to be placed in a facility for full time nursing care, the responsibility seems daunting.  By and large, one should expect competent and compassionate care, as most facilities make great efforts to comply with the Health Code, and please their clientele.  However, you may also encounter a nursing home with an attractive façade and advertising campaign, while a quick review on the internet may reveal complaints and Health Code Violations that range from unintentional neglect to outright abuse.

Once a facility is selected, and your loved one is placed under its care, there are certain measures that you can take to ensure a greater level of compassion and care.   If you are able, frequent visits are a first step in letting the staff know, in a tangible way, that you are interested in your loved one’s well-being and that you are paying attention to daily or weekly care.

Ask open ended questions about specific areas of your loved ones care that will ensure that the staff is giving it thought and review as well, whereas otherwise, it may simply be overlooked in the course of a busy care schedule.  For instance, with regard to nutrition, ask whether your loved one has had water or fluids that morning or afternoon.  Unintended dehydration is often a common starting point to the deterioration of general health.  Ask generally about their skin, and specifically, whether they have any sores.  Remember, your loved one may not be in a mental or physical condition to discover sores or complain, and you are unlikely to discover them in the course of a visit, since you are not involved with their direct dressing, cleaning and positioning.

Although you are entitled under the law to an acceptable standard of care for your loved one, you are well served by becoming involved with the facility on a regular basis, and letting them know you care.  This could make the difference between marginally acceptable care, and a meaningful relationship between your loved one and the immediate staff.