If you’re like most New Yorkers, you’ve given little or no thought to how our state’s workers’ compensation system operates. However, if you’ve currently unable to work due to an on-the-job injury, it’s vital that you understand how to protect your rights.
Eligibility for New York Workers Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation covers nearly all New York workers who are classified as employees—including full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers. Coverage begins on the first day of employment.
The workers’ compensation system does not require you to prove your employer is at fault for your injuries. You can receive benefits even if your own inexperience or inattentiveness caused your accident. However, you lose your right to benefits if your accident occurred due to drug or alcohol use or intentional self-harm.
What to Do When You’re Injured at Work
Any on-the-job injuries should be reported to your employer as soon as possible. Do not wait to see if the injury gets better on its own. The law allows you 30 days to notify your employer, in writing, of the accident that caused your injury. You should receive a notice of your legal rights within 14 days of reporting your injury to your employer.
In New York, all medical care must be from a provider authorized by the New York Workers’ Compensation Board—except in an emergency situation. Follow your doctor’s care instructions precisely, since failure to listen to medical advice may cause your claim to be disputed. Your doctor will be required to submit progress reports to the Workers’ Compensation Board every 45 days until you return to work and are no longer receiving benefits.
Once you’ve notified your employer and obtained medical care, you need to apply for workers’ compensation benefits formally. To file a claim, you must complete Form C-3 and mail it to the nearest office of the Workers' Compensation Board.
Workers Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation includes the following benefits:
- Wage replacement. Workers who are unable to return to their jobs receive cash payments that are equivalent to 2/3 of their average weekly wage, up to the state-approved maximum payment that changes each year based on inflation. Workers who are returning to lower-paying jobs can receive a payment that is equivalent to 2/3 of the difference between their new wage and their previous earnings, up to the state-approved maximum.
- Medical care. Workers' compensation pays for hospital stays, doctor visits, surgical care, physical therapy, prescriptions, and other necessary medical treatment related to your injury.
- Vocational rehabilitation. If you are unable to return to your previous employment due to your injury, you may be eligible for job placement or training benefits.
- Schedule loss of use (SLU). An SLU award provides monetary compensation for your loss of earning power if you’ve suffered a permanent injury to a body part. This includes injuries to the arm, hand, fingers, leg, foot, or toes, as well as disfigurement, loss of vision, or loss of hearing.
- Death benefits. When a workplace accident results in fatal injury, surviving family members can receive death benefits equivalent to 2/3 of the average weekly wage of the deceased worker. Payments for funeral expenses are also available.
How an Attorney Can Help
Claims for minor injuries such as a sprained ankle or a cut requiring a few stitches can typically be handled without legal representation. However, you should consult an attorney if:
- Your employer is disputing your claim by claiming you weren’t injured at work or that your injuries are not as serious as you believe.
- You’ve been the victim of retaliation related to your workers’ compensation claim, such as a cut in work hours, demotion, or pay reduction.
- You’ve been offered a settlement that doesn’t fully cover your expenses.
- You can return to work, but your employer isn’t willing to accommodate your restrictions.
- You now have a permanent disability and wish to apply for Social Security disability benefits in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.
O’Connor Law PLLC’s experienced workers’ compensation attorneys will fight for your right to a fair settlement so you can focus on recovering from your injuries and moving forward with your life. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation. Our offices are convenient to residents of Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Putnam, and Orange counties, as well as those living in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan.