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Legislature again refuses to expand statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims

New York lawmakers have, for the second year in a row now, shut down a bill that would have given medical malpractice victims a larger window to bring claims to court. Lavern’s Law, as the measure was known, would have established a statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims which begins tolling when the patient learns of the error.

Under current law, medical malpractice claims must be filed within 2 ½ years from the date the action or omission occurred. In any case of medical error, it is the medical staff and the hospital who have access to the details of the incident, so it isn’t always possible for a patient to know when his or her condition is the result of medical negligence. 

What do I do after a workplace injury? P.2

In our last post, we began discussing in general outline the claims process associated with workers’ compensation, putting particular emphasis on the need for injured workers to understand their obligations in the claims process to ensure they can claim the benefits to which they are entitled.

When an injured worker disagrees with a decision made with respect to his or her claim, he or she has the right to dispute the decision. Once a claim comes into dispute, the employer’s insurance carrier is required to inform the Workers’ Compensation Board, as well as the claimant and his or her advocate of the specific reasons workers’ compensation payments are not being made. When the reason for denying the claim is that the employee didn’t notify the employer in a timely manner, notice may be filed within 10 days of learning of the incident. 

What do I do after a workplace injury?

In most cases, workers’ compensation is the sole remedy available to workers injured on the job. Given the importance of workers’ compensation benefits, it is important for injured workers to understand their obligations when they are injured so that they don’t miss out on critical benefits.

When a worker is injured on the job, the first thing that needs to be done is to immediately inform the employer and seek necessary medical treatment. The employer must be notified of the accident in writing as soon as possible within 30 days. The employee must also file a claim with the workers’ compensation board, though this doesn’t technically have to be done until two years after the accident or within two years after the employer knew or should have know that the injury was work-related. 

Obtaining workers’ compensation for chronic job-related pain

In our last post, we continued our discussion of work-related chronic pain and the Medical Treatment Guidelines governing treatment of chronic pain. Different guidelines apply for different conditions, including: carpal tunnel syndrome; shoulder and knee injuries; mid and low back injuries; and shoulder injuries.

Medical providers are supposed to be familiar with the Medical Treatment Guidelines and are required to provide care in accordance with the guidelines for requested tests and treatments. Under the Medical Treatment Guidelines, workers with chronic pain are eligible for ongoing maintenance care. To be eligible or ongoing maintenance care, an injured worker must have reached maximum medical improvement and have a permanent disability, and he or she must have experienced a decline in functional status. 

Obtaining workers’ compensation for chronic job-related pain

In our last post, we began looking at the problem of opioid abuse in connection with workplace injury. The problem, of course, is not only seen among injured workers, but it is an issue that workers’ compensation insurers are working to address, partially to cut costs and partially to ensure more effective treatments and better prevention for workers.  

Chronic job-related pain can be every bit as disruptive to a worker as acute pain, yet workers who suffer from chronic pain may not know what to do about their situation because of a lack of clarity about the origin of the pain and whether they are eligible for workers’ compensation on that basis. Given that coverage for workers’ compensation claims depends on understanding the rules of the process, it is important to have guidance. 

Workplace injury: addressing the problem of opioid abuse for chronic pain

Opioid use and abuse has become an important issue in the United States, not only in the health care industry but also in the criminal justice system. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared an opioid epidemic, partly because of the great number of fatalities associated with opioid use. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, 78 Americans die every day due to opioid overdose.

Both the public and the private sector are exploring ways to address the problem of opioid abuse. One solution, used by insurance company Travelers, is its Early Severity Predictor. The program is aimed at identifying workers who are at risk for developing chronic pain and coming up with a customized treatment regimen to accelerate their recovery. 

Are Livery Cabs in NYC Worth It?

Sometimes being a trial lawyer requires you to question things . . . to test the validity of certain parts of the world we live in. The Trial Lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy are frequently weighing the value of services provided to consumers. A fatal Brooklyn crash involving a livery cab has triggered an analysis of their worth to society versus the dangers they present.

On Monday, June 6, 2016, an accident involving a livery cab took the life of Yuenei Wu, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Ms. Yu was inside the crosswalk when a black Chevy SUV livery cab made a left turn onto Eighth Avenue from West 38th Street, slamming into her. Onlookers were mortified as they watched the accident transpire. One witness stated that he observed the SUV hit Ms. Yu and run her completely over. Reports state that approximately ten good samaritans rushed over and physically lifted the SUV off of Ms. Yu. Ms. Yu passed away at the scene, inside the arms of a man who was attempting to revive her. Her loss is both tragic and senseless. 

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Construction Company Owner Indicted On Homicide Charges

As lawyers who fight for the rights of construction workers (BOM Attorneys: http://www.blockotoole.com/Attorneys/), we have long been pointing to worker safety violations and characterizing them as "Civil Rights Issues.' Now a member of law enforcement is taking the rarely employed, but welcome, step of criminalizing a failure to provide appropriate safety devices to workers at a construction site. Indeed, he is charging the accused with a homicide.

A Brooklyn construction company owner has been indicted on Manslaughter charges for failing to provide a safe place to work for Vidal Sanchez-Roman, a worker who plummeted to his death at a construction site last year. The indictment charges Salvatore Schirripa, owner of J & M Metro Gen. Contracting Corp. with failing to comply with basic worker safety laws that led to the death of the 50-year-old construction worker.

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Construction accident liability and third party litigation, P.2

Last time, we began discussing the possibilities available to workplace accident victims in terms of third party litigation. As we noted, there are a variety of parties that may be liable for a workplace accident, particularly on construction sites. Another possibility for obtaining compensation when there is a failure of equipment or an accident that occurs in connection with dangerous equipment is product liability litigation.

Product liability involves strict liability on the part of the equipment manufacturer rather than negligence. Pursuing a product liability case isn’t necessarily easy, though, as manufacturers can be expected to avoid liability at all costs. This is especially true in cases where it can be argued that the worker acted unreasonably in voluntarily exposing himself or herself to a known risk, or when the injured employee may have misused the product in some way. 

Construction accident liability and third party litigation, P.1

In our last post, we took a very brief look at the exclusive remedy doctrine as it applies to workers’ compensation claims in the state of New York. As we noted, there are few circumstances in which a injured worker may be able to sue an employer for the employer’s role in causing the injury. Two possibilities are failure to secure workers’ compensation coverage and committing an intentional tort against a worker.

In most cases of workplace injury, the exclusive remedy rule will prevent a worker from suing the employer for the employer’s role in the accident, though it is always important to consider the possibility. More common is bringing in third parties to hold them accountable for their part in workplace accidents.