When You are Injured on the Job, Know Your Rights
New York State requires all employers to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. The system is designed to provide appropriate medical care and help with lost wages while the worker recovers from their injury.
Once a worker is injured or becomes ill, the case goes to the employer’s insurance company. Workers are NOT fighting their employers. Their case should have zero effect on their job once their employer files the form notifying the insurance company.
For those who are unable to return to work after what the insurance company feels is a normal time is where it becomes more complicated. While the NYS Workers’ Compensation law does provide for Permanent Disability, that process has become far more difficult. NYS has capped the number of weeks even for those with “permanent” disabilities. To prove you are entitled to lifetime awards is a very high standard that can be difficult to meet.
Every worker is entitled to benefits, providing they became ill, disabled or injured on the job. How much and for how long has to be determined.
Your Right to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Every Workers’ Compensation claimant is entitled to hire an attorney to represent them. We want everyone who is hurt on the job to call us. Our office will review your claim and let you know what can be done to help you.
Having an attorney to advise you, handle the paperwork, and represent you in court helps get you the maximum benefits you deserve. Read more about our Workers’ Compensation claim process.
Workers who are out of work for a long period of time know they need a lawyer. Workers who have an injury that requires medical care but don’t miss time from work may sometimes not consult with an attorney. They often feel their injury isn’t severe enough to collect any benefits, but this is not at all the case.
No Work Injury is Minor
Very often we see workers with injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, a pulled muscle, or a sprained ankle who believe that their injury is minor. Not pursuing this could cost them dearly. Injuries that seem minor at first can often become more significant and even chronic, and are called repetitive stress injuries. You should not be penalized for working through your recovery. In fact, the Workers’ Compensation Board does not look at how much time you have lost from work when assessing permanent damage.
If you have an injury to an extremity, you may be entitled to a cash award or settlement for this residual damage from that injury. An extremity under Workers’ Compensation is an arm, leg, hand, foot, finger or toe.
You can also receive awards for permanent vision or hearing loss. This is done by submitting a medical report called a Schedule Loss of Use to the insurance company and the Workers’ Compensation Board.
What to Look Out for in Your Compensation Case
While the Workers’ Compensation system was designed to help workers who are injured on the job, changes both in the Law and Board Policy have made that more difficult.
Insurance companies may try to deny your claim, or try to send you back to work before you are medically able. They might refuse to pay extended disability benefits even if you are seriously injured or disabled. They will not let you know about the cash settlements that you may very well be entitled to or close your case in such a way that is prejudicial to you.
They may try to deny your claim, or send you back to work before you are medically able. They could refuse to pay extended disability benefits even if you are seriously injured or disabled.
A lawyer can protect your rights in these cases. Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible Workers’ Compensation benefits to the worker. To best protect your rights and make sure you get the compensation you are rightly entitled to, we recommend you at least consult with an attorney any time you have an on the job injury.
The consultations are always free and will help give you advice on your claim even if the attorney feels the claim is not one where a lawyer would be necessary. Very often workers who have serious injuries or long-term disabilities may experience resistance from their employer or the insurance company when it comes to paying the proper monetary or medical benefits.
Your Right to Medical Care in a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Medical care should be provided immediately after your injury occurs. This care includes doctor care, hospital costs, as well as prescriptions, medical equipment and transportation to and from doctor visits.
However, the insurance company has the right to have you examined by a doctor who will act as a “consultant”. They are called independent medical exams, but they are anything but independent. They are hired by the insurance companies to make your injuries sound less severe and often send workers back to work too early, or block them from getting needed treatment in order to help save the carrier money. A lawyer can protect your rights in these cases.
The Workers’ Compensation Board must authorize the health provider, but exceptions are made for emergency care. For details on medical benefits, visit the NYS Workers compensation Board here:
Insurance companies will always try to pay you as little benefits as possible. They will fight hard to keep their costs down and offer you a settlement that is less than you deserve. Workers who don’t have experience may think they are getting a good deal, when in fact, they could be entitled to a lot more.
Your Right to Cash Benefits
If you are unable to work for more than 7 days, you are entitled to cash benefits.
If your injury or disability extends beyond 14 days, cash benefits will be paid from your first day of missed work. Benefits are provided for rehabilitation or retraining.
If you can return to work, but not in the same job because of your injury, benefits may make up for 2/3 of the difference.
How Benefits are Calculated
Benefits are based on the average weekly wages of the 52 weeks worked prior to the date of the accident. An injured worker should receive 2/3 of his gross salary tax-free. The maximum rate of compensation as of 7/1/15 is $808.65
Undocumented Workers’ Rights
Workers who may be here illegally are often afraid to report an on the job injury. They worry that they may be deported. This is not the case. They are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits just like citizens. Reporting an injury or getting medical care benefits should not impact your immigration status. Find out more about undocumented workers’ rights.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney’s Fees
Most people who are injured on the job hire an attorney. In New York, for example, a Workers’ Compensation judge is responsible to set the attorney fee to be awarded to your attorney.
The amount of the attorney fees will be deducted from the benefits you are awarded in court, either from increasing what you had been previously paid or a settlement that has been paid to you. The attorney does not get a fee based on the money you voluntarily receive from the insurance company.
If your attorney is unsuccessful in securing additional Workers’ Compensation benefits for you, you don’t have to pay them anything. You are not responsible for filing fees, copy costs, or other charges. You should never pay an attorney directly on a Workers’ Compensation case.
In NY State, Workers’ Compensation Attorney fees are set by a judge, based on both the amount of money awarded to you as well as the work done by the attorney. There is no set percentage fee in a Workers’ Compensation case, because the fee is at the discretion of the Judge. In practice, attorney’s fees are generally about 15% of the award you receive in court.
Steps To Follow For A Successful In your New York Workers’ Compensation Claim:
- Report the job related injury or illness to your boss or supervisor immediately. To protect your rights you must notify your employer within 30 days of the accident or occurrence.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible and make sure you notify your doctor that your injury may be work related.
- You must file a C-3 form with the Workers’ Compensation Board within two years from the date of accident.
- To protect your rights under Workers’ Compensation Law you should contact an attorney who has experience in the field for a free consultation. In a Workers’ Compensation claim you can obtain legal representation with no up front or out of pocket expenses. An attorney is only entitled to a fee if you receive benefits that are awarded in court by a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge.
Get Proper Medical Help First.
No matter what your circumstance, your number one priority should be to get the medical help you need. Then as soon as you are able, you need to report your injury to management and contact an attorney who works on specializes in Workers’ Compensation cases. They know the exactly what needs to be done. They also know the Judges and the hearing officers who preside will over your case. Learn more about our firm.
It is much better for you to contact an attorney early on in the process so that problems can be prevented rather than solved. Experience goes a long way in getting you the maximum benefits you, the injured party, deserves.
Disclaimer: For informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact us.