- I Was Injured at Work. Can I Sue?
- A worker who is injured while in the course of her/his employment, must file a Workers’ Compensation claim with her/his employer’s insurance carrier in order to obtain benefits, including payment of hospital/medical expenses and loss of income. Workers’ Compensation is an exclusive remedy and the employee, generally, cannot sue his/her employer for monetary damages arising from the incident. But, if the incident was caused by a “third party”, that is, someone other than the employer or co-employee, the worker may collect workers’ compensation benefits AND sue the “third party” for monetary damages. For example, take the case of an office worker who is injured when he slips on a floor that was washed by an outside cleaning company who failed to post a “wet floor” sign. That worker may collect Workers’ Compensation benefits from his employer’s insurance company and bring a lawsuit against the outside cleaning company.
BOTTOM LINE: File for Workers’ Compensation and consult a lawyer as to whether you may be in position to sue any third parties. If you were injured while working on a construction project in New York, certain provisions of the New York State Labor Law may make it easier to successfully sue the owner or general contractor.
- What Exactly Is ‘Medical Malpractice’?
- Medical malpractice is the failure of a physician or healthcare provider to live up to the generally accepted standards of practice, causing injuries or complications. Or phrased another way, it is the health-care provider’s departure or deviation from the generally accepted standards of medical practice. It is not the mere failure to achieve a good result.
BOTTOM LINE: Medical malpractice cases are difficult and expensive to litigate, in part, because they require retaining medical experts to support the case and to testify in court. Many times a doctor may depart from the accepted standards of medicine but that departure will not be the cause of the patient’s injury or complication. An experienced malpractice attorney will only accept a medical malpractice case if a qualified medical expert states that the defendant departed from the accepted standards of care and that the departure(s) caused serious injuries, complications or death.
- Can I Sue for the Injuries I Sustained in a Car Crash, Even Though I Have No-Fault Insurance?
- In both New York and New Jersey, mandatory no-fault insurance provides benefits for victims of car collisions, including payment of certain hospital and medical expenses and a portion of lost income. Although the no-fault laws restrict the right to sue for money damages for personal injuries sustained in car collisions, such suits are still permitted, provided that 2 conditions are met:
a. The party being sued must have caused the collision, in least in part, by failing to use reasonable care; and
b. The injuries must be “serious injuries” as that term is defined by the laws of the States of New York and New Jersey. (Although there are certain exceptions to this requirement).
BOTTOM LINE: Obtain a copy of the police report, file an application for no-fault insurance benefits (which in New York must be done within 30 days of the accident) and if you are in pain, seek immediate medical care. An attorney will be able to advise you as to whether your injuries might fulfill the “serious injury” no-fault threshold requirement (or if the “serious injury” requirement does not apply to your case).
- Is There a Deadline for Starting a Lawsuit?
- Yes. This deadline is generally known as the Statute of Limitations and if that deadline passes, you will forever lose your right to sue. These deadlines vary, depending upon the type of case. They also vary from state to state. For example, in New York, a suit for money damages based upon a car crash, must generally be started within 3 years of the date of the occurrence, while in New Jersey, the deadline is 2 years. Some states recognize extensions to the deadline, on behalf of minors, and for victims of medical malpractice who remain under continuous treatment of the defendant, for the same condition. Depending upon the state or whether you are in state or federal court, there may even be variations as to when the time to sue begins to run.
WARNING: The law generally requires that before suing a government agency, a Notice of Claim must be filed within a very brief period of time (typically, but not always, 90 days) of the incident.
BOTTOM LINE: Statutes of Limitation and Notice of Claim laws are complicated. Failure to comply with the rules will usually have disastrous results. If you think you might have a case, call a lawyer immediately and inquire as to the applicable deadline.