Some decisions of interest that have come from the New York courts in recent weeks:
· The N.Y. Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a lower court ruling against an employer over what constitutes a “grave injury” under the Workers’ Compensation Law. The employer argued that an employee’s loss of both joints of his left index finger did not constitute “loss of an index finger” within the meaning of the law. The court ruled that the resulting “painful amputation stump” that required two corrective surgeries fell within the meaning of “loss of an index finger,” therefore falling within the definition of “grave injury.” The Workers Compensation Law prohibits third-party actions against an employer unless the injured employee suffered a grave injury.
· An insurer that took 37 days to disclaim coverage after it found out it had grounds to disclaim forfeited its right to do so.
· An appellate court has granted a plaintiff permission to ask the N.Y. Court of Appeals to rule on the constitutionality of the so-called Graves Amendment. The amendment, enacted by the U.S. Congress a few years ago, barred vicarious liability claims against long-term lease and rental car companies.