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Workers' compensation benefits claim or civil lawsuit?

New York workers may not sue their employers for work-related injuries and illnesses -- except under specific circumstances. The workers' compensation system typically provides financial assistance to injured workers while protecting employers from being sued. However, gross negligence by employers could lead to personal injury lawsuits.

FedEx is currently facing such a lawsuit that was filed by an employee who almost lost her life in a work-related incident in 2016. According to court documents, the plaintiff, who is a delivery driver for FedEx, had 47 boxes with potentially hazardous contents to deliver. She asserts that only some of the packages were marked as perishable, and none of their labels indicated the contents. For that reason, she had no idea that the dry ice in the boxes could cause her death.

Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide that turns into a gas when it melts, and an area without proper ventilation can become a death trap. This driver's blood quickly became contaminated with too much carbon dioxide, causing a condition called hypercapnia, which can be fatal. The complaint indicates that police noticed her stationary vehicle and found her slumped body upon inspection. She claims to have suffered acute hypoxia, respiratory failure and a severe neurocognitive disorder, along with subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

This worker named her employer and its customer on whose behalf the delivery was made as defendants in the civil lawsuit. New York workers who believe that their employers were directly responsible for their injuries can discuss their cases with an experienced workers' compensation attorney. A lawyer can determine the viability of a personal injury lawsuit and provide the necessary support and guidance throughout ensuing legal proceedings.

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