Tornadoes: What Would Happen to Mark Lindquist in New York State?

Last week's tornadoes in the Southeast remind us that they can happen anywhere.

Thursday’s terrible tornado in North Carolina reminded me that these deadly events can happen anywhere, any time.

Workers’ compensation and tornados have been in the news a lot lately, partly because of the case of social worker and first responder Mark Lindquist, his miraculous survival, and his fight for workers’ comp.

Lindquist was at work when a deadly tornado touched down in Joplin, Missouri, last spring. That night he heroically saved 3 developmentally disabled adults, but in the 200 mile an hour gusts Lindquist lost all of his teeth, broke every rib, and ended up in a coma that lasted several months. His medical bills amounted to $2.5 million.

The Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, his company’s workers’ comp provider, initially denied the claim. However, recent news reports and public outrage resulted in a miraculous reversal by the insurance company on the issue of compensability.

So, what would have happened to Mark Lindquist if he had been employed in New York?

Well, in New York State there is liberal construction of the Workers’ Compensation law in favor of the worker. Therefore under the same set of circumstances, under New York State Workers’ Compensation Law, it is clear that Lindquist would have been entitled to benefits.

In New York, if you were in Mark Lindquists’ shoes, your main task would be to show the existence of a causal relationship between the accident and the employment. The event culminating in injury or death must have arisen out of and in the course of employment – in other words the injury must have been received while you were doing your job.

There is no distinction made as to fault – nor is there any distinction made between a natural disaster or act of God, a risk to the general public, or even an act of terrorism as seen by the number of claims arising out of the attack on 9/11/01 as a basis for denying workers’ compensation.

It’s good to know that in New York State, heroes like Mark Lindquist would be covered.

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
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