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YacaraG

Still suffering from old workplace injury, seeking advice

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I work at a different job currently, but the job I had before this was at a Starbucks. I quit this job after an accident caused by a customer left me with 3rd degree burns covering my chest, breasts and neck. I received no workers comp for this injury but did miss work for 4 weeks unpaid. My question is, now 2 years later, the scarring and skin discoloration have become a severe detriment to me in many ways and do not appear to be able to fully heal despite my efforts self-treating. I feel this impacts my life in a way that is way more detrimental than I had previously thought. I believe the problems caused after the accident and injury continue to negatively affect my life and ability to live as I did before it happened. Is there any compensation I can seek or services I may be eligible for that could help me cope with this problem (not just monetary compensation but perhaps medical treatment for the injury and skin damage)?

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In most cases, employees who are injured on the job are compensated through the workers' comp system, and, absent special circumstances, that is an employee's exclusive remedy against the employer for on-the-job injuries.  In New York, one must file a workers' comp claim within 2 years of when the accident occurred.  The way you've worded your post ("...now 2 years later...") suggests you might have missed the deadline to do that.

 

I suppose it is possible you might have a claim against the customer who actually caused the injury, but that would depend on some additional information regarding exactly what happened. It also raises the question whether you have enough information about that person to be able to locate him/her now should you decide to file suit against him/her.

 

Suggest you speak to a lawyer in New York who does personal injury claims, who can advise you more specifically on your best options.

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2 hours ago, YacaraG said:

I received no workers comp for this injury

 

Why not?

 

 

2 hours ago, YacaraG said:

Is there any compensation I can seek or services I may be eligible for that could help me cope with this problem (not just monetary compensation but perhaps medical treatment for the injury and skin damage)?

 

Answer my question above and identify your state, and someone may be able to tell you if there's still time to pursue a workers' comp claim (the prior response mentions New York, but I don't see anything in your post regarding this happening in NY).  You could also contact your former employer about this.  You could also sue the customer whom you blame for causing the injury, but it's possible that the statute of limitations has expired (again, it depends on the state where this happened).

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If this should have been a WC claim, it is unclear why you would have waited 2 years to do anything about it. 3rd degree burns are not a DIY health matter. WC would be your exclusive remedy if you are still within the time frame to file.

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1 hour ago, ElleMD said:

WC would be your exclusive remedy

 

Workers' comp is an employee's exclusive remedy against his/her employer (subject to some narrow exemptions), but an employee may still be able to pursue tort claims against third parties.  In this case, the OP blames a customer for the accident.  While the OP may have had (and maybe still has) a workers' comp claim, the customer would still be subject to suit (assuming the applicable statute of limitations hasn't expired).

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The customer, if the OP even knows who it is, might be liable in a civil suit for damages, but the customer is not going to provide health care as requested by the OP. The after the fact cost might be part of such a suit, but if there have been no medical bills to date, those non-existent bill couldn't be part of the suit. It is questionable that a random customer could even be identified 2 years later and it isn't certain there is any liability. No details are provided as to how this accident was caused by a customer. As you are well aware, WC is "no fault", which is not at all true in a civil case. If the OP is looking for someone to authorize medical treatment now, the only option is the WC carrier.

 

Personal health insurance likely will not cover the treatment if it is revealed this happened as part of a work injury. It would be exceedingly rare for any policy to pick up the cost of treatment another insurance carrier is responsible for. I shouldn't have used the phrase "exclusive remedy" as that does have a specific meaning under WC, but the WC carrier is the only party who would have any obligation to cover the cost and authorization of health care related to the claim.

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It is clear that the incident has deeply affected you.

You are entitled to compensation since it seems you were officially employed and the mishap occurred when you were on the clock. It’s important to gather relevant information related to your burn injuries and psychological damages you could potentially seek compensation for.

Assuming that the applicable statute of limitations hasn't expired, the legal actions you may take, are:
1. File a claim against the customer liable for your injuries, proving that was his/her fault; and/or
2. File a workers’ compensation claim.

Depending on which state the incident happened, claims, generally, have to be made within 2 years from the date of the accident.

To get the best advice on your best course of action I recommend that you immediately contact a lawyer experienced in workers’ compensation cases.

Please note that my answer is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as legal advice.

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