We’ve all heard the expression, “what you don’t know, won’t hurt you.” However, given the complexity of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law and the unfavorable changes that continue to be made to it, what you don’t know will certainly hurt you.
What is workers’ compensation and who is eligible? During the early 20th century, the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law was enacted to address an increasing frequency of workplace injuries. Prior to this law, workplace injuries had a devastating effect on working families throughout New York. Workers were not receiving adequate medical care and wage replacement benefits. This law is frequently updated by the NY state legislatures to reflect changes in society. Although, changes are made from time to time when updating the law and processes of delivering benefits, unfortunately, recent changes have exclusively benefited insurance companies and employers to the detriment of injured workers.
How do you determine whether an injury qualifies for workers’ compensation? When an injury occurs during the course or within the scope of employment, then it is considered a workers’ compensation case. The NY State Workers’ Compensation Board defines workers’ compensation as insurance that provides cash benefits and medical care for workers who are injured or become ill as a result of their job. Although there are exceptions, virtually all employees are covered by this law.
If an employee is injured at work, they can follow these simple steps:
- Seek help, first aid or other necessary medical treatment immediately
- Inform and notify the employer as soon as possible – no later than 30 days after injury
- Contact Connors & Ferris to discuss your claim and determine your obligations and workers’ compensation benefits
- Follow up with a medical provider to receive a treatment plan and medical evidence demonstrating restrictions and disability related to the injury
When receiving workers’ compensation benefits there are many obligations and deadlines associated with a claim. Tips and deadlines are outlined on the New York Workers’ Compensation Claim page on our website.
Why do work injuries have to be reported? Injuries that are not reported to an employer within 30 days after the date of the accident may affect workers’ compensation benefit eligibility. Additionally, claims that are not filed within two years from the date of work-related injury or disability from an occupational illness may result in loss of benefits.
Unfortunately, there are those who unlawfully claim workers’ compensation benefits. Workers compensation insurance is intended solely for those injured on the job. To avoid fraud, you must report the circumstances of your injury truthfully. This includes reporting all prior injuries (explicitly if that prior injury involved the same body site of injury) if asked by an employer, carrier representative, doctor or judge, in addition, to reporting any and all returns to work or volunteer activities, which may be considered “work like” whether you are in paid or not. Lastly, be honest in reporting your activities of daily living. For example, avoid speaking in universal terms such as “I can’t lift anything,” “I don’t drive,” or I can no longer (fill in the blank).” Universal statements are easy to refute with visual evidence.
There is no disadvantage to hiring an attorney sooner rather than later. Most importantly, there is a real benefit to hiring a knowledgeable law firm experienced in the ins and outs of workers’ compensation. A skilled attorney can be sure to protect the rights of an injured worker and avoid common errors that can require significant effort to fix later in a case. Focusing on positive experience and outcomes, Connors & Ferris is one of New York State’s largest disability law firms, solely committed to serving and advocating injured workers.