This issue is similar to slips and falls in the workplace parking lot. The employer (university) would rather pay workers compensation than be exposed to a Tort, this is why they include the parking lot as a workplace injury even though you are not on the clock - certainly not out of altruism.
Third party law suites are becoming much more common place because workers compensation has not kept up with the CPI.
The "Grand Bargain" is not so grand for the worker.
From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU> On Behalf Of Monona Rossol
Sent: Wednesday, September 5, 2018 8:44 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Can A Woman Who Lost Her Arm In A Lab Explosion Sue UHawaii?
Oh yeah. Seen this over and over. The University's first instinct in an accident is to tell the grad they are not an employee to get the medical treatment onto the students personal insurance. Then after refection they realize that this enables the student to sue to get those expenses and more back. Now they suddenly see that the Grad WAS on their insurance plan. And now that poor injured person is at the mercy of an outdated system that pays very little for disability. Total disability in NYC is 600/week which means that the victim can't even pay their rent.
I'll make a bet that if this student didn't have a good case, they would not have ever noticed she was on WC.
This should not be a pick and choose situation for the school. How about at orientation where the school's safety plan, emergency, fire and accident response is supposed to be covered, this issue also is made clear.
Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
President: Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE
Safety Consultant: SAG-AFTRA
181 Thompson St., #23
New York, NY 10012 212-777-0062
From: Ralph Stuart <000005bc294e9212-dmarc-request**At_Symbol_Here**LISTS.PRINCETON.EDU>
To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Sent: Wed, Sep 5, 2018 8:02 am
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Can A Woman Who Lost Her Arm In A Lab Explosion Sue UHawaii?
In my experience, this is an ongoing issue nationally with regard to graduate research workers. Complete story at the URL below.
Can A Woman Who Lost Her Arm In A Lab Explosion Sue UH?
The university contends the former postdoctoral fellow must seek relief through the workers' compensation system.
The fate of a lawsuit filed by a researcher severely injured in a lab accident may come down to what her employment status was at the University of Hawaii Manoa.
Thea Ekins-Coward was a postdoctoral fellow when the explosion occurred in 2016; she filed a lawsuit against UH claiming negligence in 2017.
The question about her employment status may elevate the case to the Hawaii Supreme Court after attorneys for Ekins-Coward filed a petition to the state's high court last month, contending she was never a UH employee.
UH lawyers, who declined to comment for this report, argue in court documents that Ekins-Coward cannot pursue restitution in court. They say her only recourse is workers' compensation.
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