If you’re injured at work, what is your recourse? Will you receive workers’ compensation benefits? What does workers’ comp provide? If you sustain a work-related injury, is workers’ comp your only alternative?
Keep reading, and you’ll find out what working people in New York need to know about on-the-job injuries and how to obtain worker’s compensation benefits.
More than four thousand workers sustained fatal, on-the-job in injuries in the U.S. in 2015, and almost a thousand of those – 21.4 percent – were doing construction work.
Thousands more were seriously injured. Of course, you can be seriously injured doing any kind work. Office workers routinely suffer back injuries and trip-and-fall injuries.
Every line of work has its own hazards, so safety in the workplace needs to be everyone’s concern. A job-related injury can disorder your life, impair your health, damage your career, and devastate your finances. In this state, what do you need to know if you’re injured at your place of work?
WHO PAYS FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION?
Workers’ compensation provides benefits to workers who are injured on the job or become ill because of their work.
It’s paid for by employers and governed by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. When someone files a workers’ compensation claim, “fault” is not an issue – with the following exception.
If an employee is injured at work because he or she was intoxicated, or because the employee intended to injure himself, herself, or another person, that employee loses the right to worker’s compensation benefits.
However, in New York City, if you are wrongly denied worker’s compensation benefits, you can get help from an experienced Bronx workers’ compensation attorney.
A worker’s compensation claim will be approved if the employer and the insurer agree that an illness or injury is job-related. In most cases, that’s what happens, but when an employer or an insurer denies a claim, workers’ comp gets complicated, and you’ll need a workers’ comp attorney’s help.
WHAT IF YOUR CLAIM FOR WORKERS COMP BENEFITS IS DENIED?
When a workers’ compensation claim is denied, the first step is an appeal hearing before a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge. Both sides may present evidence and testimony, and in most cases, the judge’s determination is binding.
If you need to appeal the denial of a workers’ compensation claim, an attorney’s advice and help are imperative.
As an injured worker begins to recover, he or she may return to work on a light-duty or part-time basis.
In New York, if that worker cannot earn the wages he or she earned prior to being injured, the worker may qualify for partial workers’ compensation benefits to help bridge that wage gap.
WHO MAY – OR MAY NOT – BE COVERED BY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION?
State law requires almost all employers in New York to pay for workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees. Who’s covered and who isn’t covered?
The answer seems easy at first – most employees are covered, while most independent contractors and volunteers are not.
But who is and is not – legally speaking – an employee, a contractor, or a volunteer is a question that gets exceedingly complicated. Employers in New York are supposed to post a notice regarding workers’ compensation coverage in a spot that’s clearly visible to all employees. If you are not absolutely certain that you are covered by workers’ comp, ask your employer.
If you’re not happy with the answer, ask a Bronx workers’ compensation attorney to explain how the state’s workers’ compensation law applies to your particular employment situation.
Everyone’s situation is different, but generally speaking, most people who work as independent contractors, and most people who volunteer for non-profit, religious, or educational organizations, have no workers’ compensation entitlement or coverage.
After a workplace injury, if there’s a dispute regarding the employment status of the person claiming workers’ compensation benefits, a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge will decide if the individual should or should not be considered a legal employee for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage.
IF YOU’RE INJURED AT WORK, WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE?
1. If you’re injured at work, seek first aid or needed medical treatment at once. If your employer participates in an Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) program or a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), you’ll probably need to obtain treatment from a particular health care provider.
Employers must inform employees, in writing, about their participation in a PPO or an ADR program. If you need prescription medicines or diagnostic tests, you may also be required to use a specific pharmacy or clinic.
If you are required to use a designated pharmacy or clinic, again, your employer is supposed to inform you in writing.
2. Report your injury immediately to your employer. If you do not submit a written report within the first thirty days after you are injured, you may lose your right to workers’ comp benefits.
If your claim is related to an occupational disease, a written notification must be submitted within two years of the onset of disability, or within two years after the employee knew or should have known the disease was job-related, whichever is later.
3. You should probably have a Bronx personal injury attorney’s help with this third step, which is filling out a claim for workers’ comp benefits using Form C-3, “Employee Claim.”
The claim must be filed within two years of the date of the injury or the onset of disability. But don’t wait two years after an injury, and then try to file a claim at the last minute.
CAN A WORKERS’ COMP ATTORNEY HELP?
The best strategy, in fact, is to enlist the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you’ve been checked out medically. A good workers’ comp lawyer can explain precisely what benefits may available in your particular situation.
Your lawyer will also help you with the claim application to assure that no mistakes or misunderstandings delay your approval for workers’ compensation – or your benefits.
If you’re recovering from a job-related injury, obtain some legal assistance. A workers’ comp lawyer can advise you regarding workers’ compensation and the law; protect your rights; review your claim; see to it that you obtain the proper medical diagnosis and treatment; and file an appeal if you’re rejected for workers’ comp benefits.
Your attorney can also explain your other legal options and the other benefits that may be available to you in the state of New York.