Monday, June 16, 2008
Further Ruminations on Vasquez
Last Tuesday I posted concerning the soon to be released Connecticut Supreme Court Decision which held that New York worker's comp law applied in the case of a New York City landscaper killed in a car crash incidental to a job he was doing in Greenwich. In giving the matter additional thought, I think there is an important lesson to be taken away from the seemingly harsh result. The lesson is this: Sometimes, it really does make a difference where you file your worker's comp claim.
In Vasquez, the decedent was clearly killed in Connecticut, while working for his employer on a Connecticut job. Yet, rather than make a claim for benefits in Connecticut his widow (or more likely his widow's New York Lawyer) elected to bring the claim New York State's worker's comp forum. Now I do not profess to be an expert in NY worker's comp law. I have heard, anecdotally, that it is less forgiving and even more harsh than Connecticut's post 1995 Act but I don't have any first hand knowledge. What I do know now (that admittedly I did not know last week) is that NY worker's comp law does not allow a worker to sue a fellow employee for injuries sustained in the operation of a motor vehicle. Connecticut does.
In the Vasquez case, the election of NY Comp has now come back to haunt the decedent's family big time. Had they given the matter further consideration, or perhaps talked to one of our many skilled Fairfield County comp lawyers, they may have made a different choice with a happier result.
Hindsight is 20/20. My point is this: we are a small State. Often our workers travel to NYC or Massachusetts or Rhode Island for work. Or vice versa. And sometimes they get hurt.
Before blindly electing to proceed under a given State's Worker's Comp system, stop, take a breath, and think of the Vasquez decision. Then at least do yourself the favor of sitting down with two experienced worker's compensation lawyers---one from each involved State ---and discuss your matter in detail. Only then, with eyes wide open, will you know which is the best option for you.