Mistakes to Avoid with Your New York Construction Accident Claim
You may have recently been injured at a construction site in Albany, Syracuse or elsewhere in New York State. If so, you need to take proper steps in order to protect your right to collect workers’ compensation benefits and any other compensation that may be available to you.
In many situations, an injured construction worker may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against a non-employer or a claim against the contractor or owner of a construction site under New York’s historic “Scaffold Law.” Pursuing either type of claim should in no way impact the worker’s right to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
To help you avoid potentially costly mistakes, the attorneys of Powers & Santola, LLP, provide the following information. If you have questions about the specific facts and circumstances in your case, please contact us today to speak with an experienced attorney. We would be glad to assist in your recovery.
1. Failing to consult with an attorney.
All of the mistakes that follow on this list can easily be avoided if you contact an attorney as soon as practicable after your construction accident. The attorney you contact should have experience in the unique area of New York construction law.
Your lawyer can advise you on the correct procedure to follow and ensure that all paperwork is accurately and timely filed on your behalf. Above all, your lawyer will explore all of your legal options, stand up for your rights and seek full and fair compensation for you and your family.
2. Delaying giving notice of your injury to your employer.
You should give notice to your employer as soon as possible after you are injured at a construction site. New York workers’ compensation law requires that written notice be provided to your employer within 30 days of the accident. If you pursue legal action beyond a workers’ compensation claim, this notice may play an important role in your case.
3. Waiting too long to take legal action.
In addition to the notice deadline mentioned above, there are several other very important deadlines for you to meet. These deadlines are:
- Workers’ compensation – If your employer denies medical or lost wage benefits, you must file a claim with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board within two years after the date of your injury.
- Personal injury – You must file a legal action within three years from the date of the accident.
- Wrongful death – If your loved one died in a construction accident, you must file a complaint within two years of the death.
- Claims against the state or a local government entity – If you intend to assert a claim for relief against the State of New York or a local city, town or other municipality, you must provide the government entity with notice of your intent to sue within 90 days after your accident. You will also have only two years from the accident date in which to file a lawsuit.
Certain exceptions may apply to these above deadlines, or statutes of limitation. It will be important to consult with an attorney before the applicable deadline in your case arrives. The sooner you can do this, the better it will serve you. This is because the attorney will need to review and investigate the construction accident case before taking action on your behalf.
4. Not seeing a doctor.
The injuries suffered in many construction accidents are severe enough that emergency medical providers are called to the scene to treat the victim and transport him or her to the nearest hospital.
If you are not transported to the hospital immediately, you should still seek medical attention without delay. You should also follow all recommended treatment.
Keep in mind: The medical records in your case will be crucial in establishing your right to workers’ compensation disability benefits and/or personal injury compensation. It will be important to have your injuries documented.
Additionally, to be eligible to receive workers’ compensation medical benefits, you must seek treatment from a doctor who is “coded” by the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board.
If the doctor orders a test or procedure that exceeds $500, you will need to get approval in advance from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. The insurer will have the right to get an opinion from one of its own medical consultants on whether the test or procedure is necessary.
5. Failing to keep track of all injury-related expenses and losses.
In addition to collecting and maintaining all bills, receipts and other paperwork showing your medical expenses, you should keep other records. For instance, if you miss work, you should get documentation that shows how many days you have missed and the amount of wages you have lost. You will have the right to seek compensation for these losses in a personal injury claim.
6. Accepting a settlement offer before speaking with an attorney.
Shortly after a construction accident occurs, an insurer representing a contractor or construction site owner may offer a sum of money in exchange for you signing a release of your right to bring a legal action. This is a settlement offer.
You should never sign such a release or accept a settlement without first consulting with an attorney. You do not want to settle your case for an amount that will fail to fully and fairly compensate your for all of your losses.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we can provide a careful review of any settlement offer that has been made in your case. We will provide a candid assessment of the offer and explain whether it may be in your best interest to either accept or reject it.
Our law firm has a wealth of experience in this area of the law. Members of our firm who focus on construction accident cases, such as attorney Daniel R. Santola, have received statewide and national recognition for their skill, experience and ethical approach to these cases.
We would be glad to review your case and help you to get a better understanding of other options that may be available to you in your recovery.