New York Workplace Injury Attorneys
New York State requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, including part-time employees. That means if you are injured on the job or develop an occupational illness, it should be easy to get the benefits you deserve.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Filing a New York workers’ compensation claim can be complicated and overwhelming, and in some cases, the insurance company may shortchange you on your benefits or deny your claim altogether.
The New York workplace injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana have decades of experience dealing with workers’ compensation claims and can help make sure you are treated fairly.
Workplace Injuries in New York
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 91 fatal work injuries in New York City alone in 2019, up by 18 from the previous year. Falls, slips, and trips resulted in 24 of those fatalities, and violence and other injuries by persons or animals accounted for 21. Those two major categories accounted for nearly half (49 percent) of all workplace fatalities in the city.
Exposure to harmful substances or environments and contact with objects and equipment were the third-most frequent fatal work events with 17 fatalities each.
Over the entire state, there were 140,000 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported in 2019, resulting in a rate of 2.2 cases per 100 full-time workers. There were 273 fatal injuries, with 72 of those attributed to falls, slips, and trips, and 65 of those attributed to transportation incidents. Fifty-one were caused by exposure to harmful substances or environments.
Nationwide, employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019, including 5,333 workplace fatalities. This was a 2 percent increase over 2018 data.
What Type of Injuries are Covered by Worker’s Compensation in New York?
New York law requires workers’ compensation insurance to cover injuries and occupational illnesses—those conditions that arise during the course of employment and may be attributed to your exposure to chemicals, fumes, dust, smoke, and other elements. A commonly covered occupational illness, for example, is asbestos-related lung disease, while a commonly covered occupational condition might be hearing loss.
Workplace-related injuries may include sprains, burns, cuts, broken bones, amputations, neck and back injuries, and more. As long as the injury required more medical treatment than simple first aid, and it occurred while you were on the job, your insurance should cover it. Even if you alone are to blame for getting injured at work, you can still receive workers’ compensation benefits as New York doesn’t determine eligibility based on fault.
If, however, you were not on the job at the time—maybe you were driving to work when you got into a car accident—your medical bills would likely not be covered. In addition, New York defines work-related injuries as those that occur while you’re on the clock for your scheduled shift at your assigned work station. That means if you were injured while on a supply run—away from your usual workstation—your claim may not be covered.
No matter what, however, it’s always best to report an injury and file a workers’ compensation claim. There are always exceptions and if you hire a workers’ compensation attorney, he or she can help you find ways to win compensation.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Am I Entitled to in New York?
If you are injured on the job or develop a workplace-related illness, you may eligible for the following benefits:
1. Medical Benefits
Your workers’ compensation insurance carrier will pay medical bills for treatment related to your workplace injury. This includes medical treatments, appointments with doctors and other healthcare providers, diagnostic tests, dental care, surgeries prescription drugs, assistive devices, and more.
Except in emergency cases, the healthcare provider who treats you must be authorized to do so by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). Otherwise, you can choose any provider authorized to give care by the WCB.
If your employer participates in the Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) program, you will need to seek treatment from a participating healthcare provider.
2. Lost Wages
If your illness or injury keeps you out of work for more than seven days, you may be eligible to recover lost wages through partial or total disability. The benefits are calculated according to this formula: 2/3 x injured employee’s average weekly wage for the previous year from the injury date (up to a maximum amount) x percent of disability/temporary impairment.
For example, an injured worker who was earning $400/week and is totally disabled would receive $266.67 per week. A partially disabled worker (50 percent) would receive $133.34 per week. The weekly benefit can’t exceed the maximum amount, which is based on the New York State Average Weekly Wage for the previous calendar year.
If the insurer accepts your workers’ compensation claim, payments should begin within 18 days of the day you were injured, or within 10 days after your employer became aware of the injury, whichever is later.
If your claim is disputed, you have to wait until a judge resolves the dispute to receive your payments.
3. Permanent Disability
If your doctor determines that your condition would not improve any further, he or she may conclude that the workplace injury has left you with permanent limitations. If the doctor says that you are 100 percent disabled and can’t return to work, you’ll receive lost wages for as long as you continue to be disabled.
If you remain partially disabled after finishing medical treatment, you can continue to receive lost wages benefits depending on your salary and your level of disability or earning capacity. This varies depending on the case. Employees can also request a lump-sum payment instead of weekly payments, though this may reduce the overall level of benefits paid.
4. Additional Benefits
New York worker’s compensation also provides additional benefits including:
- Death Benefits: If a worker dies on the job, the surviving spouse, children, and other dependents may be eligible to receive death benefits. The insurance will also cover funeral expenses up to a certain amount.
- Vocational rehabilitation: If your injury left you unable to do the job you were doing before, workers’ compensation may help cover a vocational rehabilitation program or job placement services to help you find a different type of job.
What Do I Do After a Workplace Injury?
As soon as you become aware that you’ve suffered a workplace injury or occupational illness, take the following steps:
1. Report the Injury
New York law requires that you report the injury or illness within 30 days of the occurrence. If you are able, tell your immediate supervisor or human resources department right away. If you are severely injured, get medical attention first, and then let your employer know as soon as you can.
At some point, make your notification in writing, and be sure to keep a copy of it. Include what happened, where you were, what you were doing, and what time the injury occurred. If you’re reporting an illness or repetitive injury that has taken time to develop, describe the situation and when you were diagnosed.
2. Get Medical Treatment
In severe cases, you’ll want to take this step first. No matter what, always seek medical attention, even if your injuries don’t require immediate emergency attention. Many injuries are not noticeable right away, and some are difficult to detect and may not surface for weeks or even months later.
Your medical records will provide proof of your injury (or potential injury) and will be useful in your claim. You can see your own doctor as long as that person is authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). Check with the office to be sure.
3. Gather Information
Though you don’t have to prove that you were injured, it can help your case to have additional evidence. Take pictures of where the accident took place or where you were exposed to the toxic fumes or other dangerous environments, as well as of your injuries.
If there were witnesses, get their names and contact information. Your workplace attorney may want to contact them later for more information. Keep track of all your medical records. If there is other information related to your injury, such as evidence that a piece of machinery was defective, or that a third-party contractor was acting carelessly, that can help as well.
4. File a Claim with the New York Workers’ Compensation Board
Your employer should file your claim for you, but it’s important to follow up and be sure they did. Ask for copies for your records. You will need to fill out and file Form C-3, which is your official claim for workers’ compensation. Having a workplace injury attorney help you with this step can eliminate the risk of errors and ensure you receive the maximum amount possible.
5. Contact a Workplace Injury Lawyer
You can file your workers’ compensation claim on your own, but if you want to minimize wait time, avoid the bureaucratic hassle, and maximize your benefits, it’s best to contact a lawyer that specializes in worker’s compensation in New York. This person can also help if your claim is denied.
What if My Claim is Denied?
If your claim is approved, you will start to receive compensation. If the claim is denied, however, you have a choice:
- Accept the denial and go on about your life.
- Appeal the denial.
Some of the most common reasons why a claim may be denied in New York include:
- You didn’t report the injury to your employer within 30 days
- Your employer says the injury didn’t happen on the job
- Your employer or the insurance company says there isn’t enough medical evidence to support your claim
- You didn’t go to the doctor after the accident
- The paperwork wasn’t filled out correctly
- Your doctor wasn’t authorized by the WCB
- The injury is deemed “not compensable” by the law
- There were no witnesses who could corroborate what happened
- Your employer says your injury was the result of a pre-existing condition
- You were intoxicated or taking illegal drugs at the time of the incident
This is when you could use a workplace attorney on your side. The insurance company always wants to protect its bottom line and will do its best to get out of paying benefits if possible. Having someone to represent you can increase your chances of getting the claim overturned and receiving the benefits you deserve.
A formal written request to appeal a denial is necessary. If your claim is denied again, you have the right to appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York.
Are There Other Legal Actions I Can Take?
Workers’ compensation protects employers from lawsuits most of the time. There are some exceptions, though, when may allow you to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against an employer:
- Your employer intentionally caused the injury: This is rare, but it can happen. You must prove that your employer acted with the express intent of hurting you. Negligence is not sufficient.
- Your employer is not adequately insured: If your employer doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance or that insurance is insufficient, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover damages.
You may also have the option of filing a lawsuit against a third party. These may include:
- Outside contractors, like construction contractors
- Equipment manufacturers and manufacturers who make toxic substances
- Maintenance workers or installation technicians, or the companies they work for
- Motorists who cause accidents
- Property owners
If you have evidence showing that any of these parties acted negligently or created a defective product, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. You can do that whether you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits or not. It can help to have an attorney advising you, though, as New York does have laws to prevent “double-dipping” when it comes to injury awards.
If you win your personal injury case, you may have to pay two-thirds of your workers’ compensation benefits back to the insurer. Your workplace injury lawyer can help with negotiations.
Will I Be Fired if I Report a Workplace Injury?
It is against New York law to fire an employee for filing a workplace injury claim or a personal injury lawsuit. It is also against the law to fire an employee because of an injury or disability without making reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If your employer fires you and you believe it is in retaliation for your injury or your related claims, seek legal advice immediately.
Common Types of Workplace Injuries
Though there are a wide variety of personal injuries and illnesses that may occur because of your work, below are some of the most common:
- Head and brain injuries
- Back, neck, and spine injuries
- Paraplegia and quadriplegia
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Illnesses from exposure to substances
- Broken bones
- Strains from overexertion
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Cuts and lacerations
- Vision and hearing damage
New York Workplace Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one was injured at work, contact our workplace injury attorneys for help. We can assist in filing your initial claim, appealing a denied claim, appealing modified or halted benefits, or filing a third-party personal injury claim. Call today at 888-480-1123.