A serious workplace injury can disrupt your life, threaten your health, and eat away at your finances. Here in New York, what should you know if you are injured on the job? What are your immediate priorities?

1. Your first priority is critical. You must seek medical attention immediately from a qualified healthcare provider.

2. Your second priority is legal. After you have been examined by a healthcare provider, you must discuss your legal rights and options with a Bronx workplace injury attorney who has substantial personal injury and workers’ compensation experience.

WHAT DOES WORKERS’ COMPENSATION REQUIRE?

Under New York’s workers’ compensation regulations, most New York workers who are injured on the job will not be treated by a doctor of their own choice. Instead, those workers must be examined and treated by a healthcare provider chosen by the employer’s insurance company.

But what if you are an injured worker and you are dissatisfied with the diagnosis offered by that healthcare provider?

Will you be allowed to seek a second opinion from another healthcare provider? How will that affect your eligibility for workers comp?

When you are injured at your place of work, it is imperative to understand your rights and options so that you can obtain the best available medical treatment, the maximum available compensation, and return to work in good health as quickly as possible.

DOES WORKERS’ COMP LET YOU SEEK A SECOND DOCTOR’S OPINION?

But if you need a second doctor’s opinion regarding your injury and condition, how do you proceed under workers compensation? And how can you make sure that you – and not an insurance company – are the one choosing the doctor who is offering the second opinion?

After any job-related injury in or near New York City, discuss your rights, options, and the details of your case – immediately – with an experienced workplace injury attorney.

Under workers’ compensation, an injured worker must be seen by a doctor chosen by the employer and the workers’ comp insurance company, but if you’ve been injured at work, you have the right to see your own doctor – or another doctor that you trust – for a second opinion.

WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF SEEING YOUR OWN DOCTOR?

Your own doctor knows you and knows your medical history. If the workers’ comp doctor insists that you can go back to work, but you do not feel that you’ve fully recovered, the doctor that you choose may be able to provide a statement on your behalf.

You have the right to see your own doctor, to obtain a second opinion, and to have that second opinion considered when you seek workers’ compensation benefits in New York.

However, you’ll need the guidance of a skilled workplace injury lawyer who can ensure that if you are injured on the job, you will be treated fairly by the insurance company and by your employer.

HOW CAN A WORKPLACE INJURY LAWYER HELP YOU?

A workplace injury lawyer can see to it that your doctor’s second opinion becomes a part of the record, and if your workers’ comp benefits are cut off before you’ve fully recovered, your attorney can appeal that decision and fight for the benefits you need.

In New York, if your workers’ comp claim is denied, your attorney can request an appeal before a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge. Testimony and evidence may be presented by both sides at the appeal hearing, and the judge’s decision is usually final.

If you appeal a denial of your workers’ compensation claim, you must be represented by an injury attorney who knows what it takes to prevail with one of these appeals.

If you need to contest a decision regarding your workers’ comp benefits, you must take action promptly.

You’ll face deadlines, and if you miss a deadline, you may be denied the benefits you need. Your attorney can ensure that you meet those deadlines and will provide the legal guidance you need.

WHAT IS AN INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATION (IME)?

If you are seeking workers’ compensation benefits in New York, it is also imperative to understand the difference between a second opinion – from a doctor you choose – and what is called an “independent medical examination” or IME.

IMEs are not really independent. However, workers’ compensation insurance providers do have the right to request what is called an independent medical examination, purportedly to confirm the findings of the doctor who treated you for your workplace injury.

But in most cases, the real motive for requesting an IME is to look for evidence that can be used to deny, reduce, or terminate your workers’ comp benefits. In fact, the IME is one of the leading tools that insurance companies use to reduce their workers’ compensation costs.

HOW SHOULD YOU HANDLE AN IME?

If you’re asked to submit to an IME, take it seriously. Your workers’ compensation benefits could depend on it:

1. Remember that everything you say to the doctor will be noted.
2. Don’t provide any answers except to the specific questions that the doctor asks.
3. Be honest regarding your condition and limitations. Do not mislead or exaggerate.
4. Ask any questions you have. Make sure you get answers that satisfy your concerns.
5. Request copies of every form you sign or complete during the visit.

Beyond helping you to obtain the workers’ comp benefits that you are entitled to, a good workplace injury lawyer will also ensure that you get the medical services and care that you need.

ARE YOU CERTAIN THAT YOU’RE COVERED?

New York law requires nearly every New York employer to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for employees. Most employees are covered, but most volunteers and independent contractors are not.

If you’re not sure that workers’ compensation covers you, ask your employer. If the answer doesn’t satisfy you, a workers’ compensation lawyer can explain how the law applies in your own employment circumstances.

A reputable workplace injury attorney can explain your employment rights, review your injury claim, see that you have proper medical treatment, and advocate aggressively on your behalf if your benefits are denied, reduced, or terminated for any reason.

No one wants to be injured at work, but if it happens, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and the best available medical care. Have an experienced attorney fight on your behalf. That is your right.