I Can’t Work; Can I File For Unemployment Even Though Litigation Is Pending?

The majority of workers injured on the job are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, but their claims cannot be brought to court. If a third party (someone outside the company) caused the accident, the employee is free to file a personal injury lawsuit against the third party (a slip and fall accident , for example).

Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits in New York

New York State imposes several requirements on individuals seeking unemployment benefits. You must:

  • Be unemployed; Have worked enough hours in New York over the past year to establish eligibility; Have lost your job through no fault of your own.
  • Be willing and able to work; and actively seek employment.

To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must meet each of these requirements.

Are You Unemployed?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal statute, mandates that your employer provide you with up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave per year if you meet certain conditions, such as disability.

If the law applies, your employer cannot terminate you for a disability if you regain the ability to work within 12 weeks. If you and your employer have reached such an agreement, you are not unemployed. Consequently, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits under these conditions.

Have You Worked Enough Time in New York to Qualify for Unemployment Benefits?

Your eligibility for unemployment benefits depends on whether you worked in New York during your base period, assuming you are otherwise eligible. Set the end point of your base period to three months before the date you applied for unemployment benefits. The beginning date is precisely 12 months prior to the end date.

The amount of unemployment benefits you receive depends on how many hours you worked during your base period. The New York state government determines your benefit amount, which fluctuates frequently.

Did You Lose Your Job Through No Fault of Your Own?

If you lost your job due to an accident at work that was not your fault, you qualify for unemployment benefits under this requirement. But what if the issue in a pending lawsuit is the question of fault?

In this instance, New York will determine your liability for the accident (and your resulting loss of employment). If it is determined that you were responsible for the accident, you will likely not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

If, however, your employer terminated you for misconduct or you voluntarily quit your job, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Are You Ready, Willing, and Able To Work?

If your workplace injury prevents you from working, New York is likely to deny your unemployment claim. There is, however, a loophole. New York may consider you able to work if your employer could provide a “reasonable accommodation” for your disability that would allow you to perform your job duties. Then, you would be eligible for unemployment benefits if you met the remaining criteria.

Are You Actively Seeking Work?

The requirement to “actively seek work” may be irrelevant if your injuries prevent you from working. If you are able to work, you cannot receive unemployment benefits unless you actively seek employment.

Are You Ready and Willing To Work?

To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be immediately available for work.

You Probably Need a Lawyer

The unemployment, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance systems in New York are interdependent and can interact intricately. If you were injured in a workplace accident and intend to apply for unemployment benefits, it is probably a good idea to seek legal counsel.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm

Contact Abrams Law Group for a free consultation if you’ve been hurt in an accident and require legal assistance.

Abrams Law Group
104-70 Queens Boulevard, Suite 502
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 997-9797

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