Can I recover compensation if hurt while working off-the-books?

by Kim
(New York, NY)

I worked at a restaurant and was cut badly on my ankle when a wine bottle fell in the dimly lit basement. I was cut very badly and now have a hard time standing for long periods and have a large scar (which is a problem as I also model). I was paid off-the-books and the employer has refused to pay any of my medical bills.

I know that in NY in most cases you can't sue an employer, that workers' comp is the only remedy, but because I was off-the-books I wondered if I could.

What's the law on off-the-books workers suing their employers? Also, will I be in legal trouble for working off-the-books, will it bar me from recovering anything? Thanks for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can I recover compensation if hurt while working off-the-books?":

Kim (New York, NY):

Presuming you are legally working in this country there isn't a legal penalty you would be subject to for working off the books. As long as you pay taxes on your income you shouldn't have any problems.

It's your employer who may be in trouble. Depending on the number of employees he has, he may be in clear violation of New York State's workers' compensation laws.

You have the basis of a strong personal injury cases against your employer. He is responsible for his employees, and because he didn't carry the requisite workers compensation, you have a right to sue him or his company personally.

Contact several personal injury attorneys in your area. You will likely be surprised at how many will gladly accept your case. Being permanently scarred while performing your work duties is considered a serious injury. As a result, your case may be worth a great deal of money.

You've done nothing wrong. You were injured and your employer has refused to help. Don't let him get away with it.

Before you sign anything, or say anything further to your employer about your injury, consult with several attorneys. Most will not charge you any fee for an initial office consultation.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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