The National Floor Safety Institute reports that injuries resulting from slip-and-fall accidents are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims in the United States. In New York winters, work-related slip-and-fall accidents due to snow and ice happen far too frequently.
Ice and snow substantially increase the risks for employees who have to work outside or drive in winter weather. What kinds of injuries are sustained in work-related slip-and-fall accidents? What can be done to reduce slip-and-fall accidents caused by snow and ice? How can a Bronx slip and fall law firm help?
HOW DOES WORKERS’ COMPENSATION WORK IN NEW YORK?
What makes job-related injuries different from other injuries? If you are employed and injured on the job, you probably qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Injured workers don’t have to file a lawsuit or prove anyone was negligent to receive workers’ comp payments.
With only the narrowest exceptions, the law in the state requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance for all of their employees, including part-time workers and relatives who work for the employer.
If you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident at your job, workers’ compensation is supposed to pay for all necessary medical care and treatment. In New York, workers’ compensation also partially replaces an injured worker’s lost wages.
HOW IS THE AMOUNT OF YOUR WORKERS’ COMP BENEFITS DECIDED?
If you are fully or partially disabled due to a work-related injury, and you’re away from work for over seven days, your wage replacement benefits are determined by a formula that considers your average weekly salary (for the previous year) and the severity of your temporary disability.
Two-thirds of your average weekly salary is multiplied by your temporary disability rating. If you earned $1000 a week and your disability rating is 100 percent, your weekly workers’ comp payment is about $667, but if your disability rating is 50 percent, the payment is about $333.
WHAT MAY BE REQUIRED TO OBTAIN WORKERS’ COMP BENEFITS?
While you do not have to prove that your employer was negligent in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you do have to prove that you were injured at your job or in the “course and scope” of your employment.
You will probably have to have a medical exam conducted by a doctor chosen by your employer or by the workers’ compensation insurance provider to determine what treatment is necessary and for how long. You should comply with the insurance company’s reasonable requests.
In some cases, an employer – or an employer’s insurance company – may try to deny your benefits by claiming that you were not genuinely injured or that you were injured at some other time and place and away from the job.
HOW CAN A WORKPLACE INJURY LAWYER IN NEW YORK HELP?
If you need help to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to, discuss your legal rights and options at once with an experienced Bronx workplace injury attorney. A workplace injury attorney can:
- review your workers’ comp application to ensure that there are no mistakes or misunderstandings that might result in a delay or a denial of your benefit payments
- appeal a denial of your workers’ comp benefits
- help you seek a second opinion if you disagree with a doctor’s evaluation of your condition
IS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ADEQUATE?
Slip-and-fall accidents caused by snow and ice can sometimes cause catastrophic injuries. When someone sustains a traumatic brain injury, a serious spinal cord injury, and/or multiple broken bones and contusions, that person may require a lifetime of expensive medical care.
And while this state has one of the most generous workers’ compensation systems in the nation, if you sustain a catastrophic injury or become permanently disabled due to a slip-and-fall injury on the job, you’re going to need more than workers’ compensation will provide.
The most severe medical conditions may require life-long care, distant trips to medical facilities, special arrangements for childcare, and other unanticipated costs. However, for some injury victims, workers’ compensation benefits may not be the only compensation available to them.
HOW DOES A “THIRD-PARTY” PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM WORK?
Some injured workers in New York will qualify to pursue a third-party personal injury claim.
If you are a delivery driver and a speeding, negligent motorist injures you while you’re making deliveries, that motorist is liable. If your employer just purchased snow tires for the delivery van that you drive, those tires are defective, and you’re injured, the manufacturer may have liability.
An experienced Bronx workplace injury attorney can review the circumstances of your workplace accident and injury to determine if a third party may have liability.
If a third party played any role in the accident that injured you, your Bronx personal injury attorney will explain how the personal injury process works and recommend the best way for you to move forward – which might include a third-party personal injury lawsuit.
HOW CAN EMPLOYERS REDUCE SNOW- AND ICE-RELATED INJURIES?
If you own a business property, you probably remove snow and ice to clear paths for employees and customers, but the physical condition of your property, and the methods you use to remove snow and ice, are critical.
Mistakes when you remove snow and ice are easy to make and may lead to injuries. Briefly, here are some tips for employers:
- Ensure that your gutters and drains are working properly.
- Make certain that water and slush are moved to a safe spot; water that accumulates on a sidewalk or parking area where people walk can create a dangerous ice patch.
- Check for leaks. Retailers usually fix leaks immediately in customer areas, but less obvious leaks can be a real hazard.
- If your plumbing hasn’t been inspected recently, have it done. A burst pipe can spill water into a location where people walk and create hazardous, slippery conditions.
- Before the temperatures drop, insulate any exposed pipes with foam pipe sleeves, and then try to keep the room temperature above freezing.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER ABOUT WORKPLACE INJURIES?
If you’re injured in a work-related slip-and-fall accident in New York, an attorney can help, but it’s up to you to exercise your rights, pick up your phone, and make the call to an injury attorney as soon as you’ve been injured. That is your right. Your future might depend on it.