Employees who are injured on-the-job are almost always entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits in the state of New York, but what options do you have if you are injured away from the workplace?

Injured employees in our state have several options for receiving compensation and short-term injury benefits, even if their injuries are not job-related.

The first thing to understand is that if you are seriously injured in or near New York City – at the job or away from the job – you should discuss your rights at once with a personal injury attorney.

WHAT DOES IT COST TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS?

It doesn’t cost anything to learn where you stand legally and what your options are as an injury victim. Your first consultation with an accident attorney in New York is free.

If you are victimized by negligence away from your job – if you are injured, for example, by a negligent driver, a malpracticing doctor, or even a neighbor’s biting dog – your attorney may suggest filing a personal injury lawsuit.

You may not have grounds – or sufficient evidence – to bring or to prevail with a personal injury claim, and if you do take legal action, it might be months, or in some cases even longer, before the matter is finally resolved.

In the case of an on-the-job injury, if a party other than your own employer has any liability for your accident and injury, your attorney may recommend bringing a “third-party” personal injury action.

WHAT IS NEW YORK’S DISABILITY BENEFITS LAW?

But if you’re employed in the state of New York, and you are injured away from your job, you will probably qualify for up to 26 weeks of paid short-term disability benefits under New York’s Disability Benefits Law or “DBL.”

This may be the only benefit that an injured employee in New York is eligible to receive, or it may help to bridge the financial gap while an injured worker seeks other benefits or pursues a legal action.

The state’s short-term disability benefits program is overseen by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.

According to the Board’s website, “Disability benefits are temporary cash benefits paid to an eligible wage earner, when he/she is disabled by an off the job injury or illness.”

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR TEMPORARY DISABILITY BENEFITS?

Almost all employers in this state – with only several very precise exceptions – are “covered” for temporary disability benefits, but who is considered an “eligible” wage earner?

1. someone employed by a covered employer, or someone recently employed by a covered employer and receiving unemployment benefits

2. someone who changed jobs from a covered employer to a second covered employer, provided that employment was continuous

3. domestic employees working 40 or more hours a week for a single employer

4. someone who does not work for a covered employer but elects voluntary coverage

HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR TEMPORARY DISABILITY BENEFITS?

You must file your temporary disability claim within 30 days of your disabling injury. You will need to submit a completed a DB-450 form. The form may be obtained from your employer.

If you’re out of work, and if you have received more than four weeks of unemployment benefits at the time you are injured, you will need to submit a DB-300 form, which is available through your local Workers’ Compensation Board.

Both forms ask for medical information about your injury and temporary disability, and one section must be completed by the doctor who is treating you. Medical evidence of your temporary disability may be requested – or required.

HOW ARE TEMPORARY DISABILITY BENEFITS PAID?

Benefit payments under New York’s Disability Benefits Law are cash payments, so medical care and payments are the injured employee’s responsibility.

The cash benefits constitute fifty percent of the injured worker’s average weekly wage, with a weekly benefit cap that is currently set at $170.

That’s not much. But it’s $170 a week more than someone injured away from the job will receive in most of the other 49 states.

Injured workers in New York may receive the temporary disability benefits for up to 26 weeks during a period of 52 consecutive weeks. Recipients receive a payment every two weeks.

Pregnancy is covered under the temporary disability benefits program for up to six weeks after a normal delivery and for up to eight weeks after a Caesarian birth.

WHAT IF YOU ARE DISABLED BEYOND 26 WEEKS?

Employees in New York who are disabled and unable to work beyond 26 weeks may qualify for long-term disability benefits through the Office of Labor Relations, and some with long-term disabilities may qualify to receive disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

WHO QUALIFIES TO RECEIVE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS?

New York workers who are injured or become ill as a direct result of their employment may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ compensation in New York provides cash benefits to replace wages and also covers injury-related medical expenses for workers who are injured on the job or “in the course and scope” of their employment.

A workers’ compensation claim is paid if the employer or insurance carrier agrees that the injury or illness is work-related.

If a worker is not receiving worker’s comp benefits because the employer or insurance carrier is contesting the claim that the injury was job-related, the worker may be eligible for temporary disability benefits while the workers’ comp claim is pending.

Any benefits paid under the temporary disability benefits program are subtracted from the recipient’s future workers’ compensation payments if those workers’ comp payments are approved.

HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP?

Ask anyone who works in a New York City emergency room; serious injuries happen in all five boroughs, every hour, every day of the year.

If you’re employed in this state, injured, and temporarily disabled, you are probably eligible for either worker’s comp benefits or temporary disability benefits, and you may have additional options.

That’s important, because if you’ve been catastrophically or permanently injured, you are going to need more help with your medical costs than these two state benefit programs provide.

An experienced Bronx personal injury attorney can discuss your options and offer the reliable legal advice you need after you’ve sustained a serious injury. Remember, your first consultation with an injury attorney is free.

It’s the wise move to make. If you’ve been injured, sound legal advice is your right.