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What Is Workers’ Comp? Understanding Your Protections in New York

What Is Workers' Comp? Understanding Your Protections in New York

 

If you were hurt on the job, you may wonder, “What is workers’ comp?” Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance thatpays out cash benefits and covers medical care for employees who were injured on the job. If you developed a work-related illness—such as cancer after toxic chemical exposure—you also qualify.

Workers’ comp is complicated and can be difficult to understand. You may not know if you’re eligible, how the workers’ comp process works, or who you can turn to for help.

Who Qualifies for Workers’ Comp in New York?

The law extends coverage to almost every employee in the state, including undocumented workers. The NY Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) defines an “employee” as anyone “who performs under the supervision, direction, and control of an employer either on or off their premises.”

For the purposes of workers’ comp coverage, an individual is an employee if they:

  • Work any amount of hours: full-time, part-time, casual, temporary, or seasonal hours
  • Are leased or borrowed
  • Are unpaid, working on a volunteer basis, or are a family member of the employer

You may not even be aware of your workers’ comp coverage until you are hurt or become sick. Your employer provides coverage at no cost to you, so you don’t see any premium deductions on your paycheck.

What Is the Workers’ Comp Claim Process?

The process for filing a workers’ comp claim looks a little different depending on if you are injured or if you develop a work-related illness.

If You Are Injured on the Job

Perhaps you are a corrections officer who has been injured by an inmate or developed a repetitive motion injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome, or perhaps you slipped and fell at work or were injured while working on a construction site. Your injury entitles you to medical treatment covered by your employer.

  1. Your first priority is your safety. Stop working and seek medical treatment. Call 911 for serious and life-threatening injuries. Your employer should have a posted list of approved hospitals and clinics covered under their policy.
  2. Notify your supervisor as soon as possible. The law requires you to do so within 30 days of your injury, but there is no reason to wait.
  3. Let your doctor know that you were hurt on the job and that you plan to file/have filed a workers’ comp claim. This way, your own medical insurance won’t be billed.
  4. File an Employee Claim (Form C-3) and submit it to the NY Workers’ Compensation Board. You can file this form online, by mail, or in person at your local WCB office.

If You Develop a Work-Related Illness

An occupational disease is any illness or health condition you develop because of your job. Examples include cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, and hearing loss.

  1. You should notify your employer as soon as you receive a diagnosis for a work-related condition.
  2. You must file an Employee Claim (Form C-3) and submit it to the NY Workers’ Compensation Board. You have two years to file Form C-3, but there is no reason to wait. The clock starts ticking from:
    • The date your work-related condition started; or
    • The date you learned of your work-related condition; or
    • The date you should have known about the condition.

At any point in the claims process, you can consult with a New York workers’ comp attorney.

What Is a Workers’ Comp Attorney?

A workers’ compensation lawyer helps injured employees pursue their benefits. You should speak with a workers’ comp attorney if:

  • Your employer says that you’re not covered by workers’ comp
  • You are an undocumented worker and your employer refuses to process your claim
  • You are told that your benefits are ending and you must return to work, but you haven’t recovered
  • Anytime you hit a roadblock in the claims process

A workers’ comp lawyer can advise you of your rights. They can help prevent you from being taken advantage of by your employer and the insurance company.

What Is Workers’ Comp Ineligibility?

According to the NY Workers’ Compensation Board, you lose your right to receive workers’ comp benefits if:

  • Your intoxication (drugs or alcohol) was the sole cause of your injury
  • You intended to hurt yourself
  • You intended to hurt someone else

Some dishonest employers and insurers may try to falsely use these reasons to deny your claim. If you were told that your claim was denied for any of these reasons and there is more to the story, consult with a skilled workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible.

Your Rights After Filing a NY Workers’ Comp Claim

You have certain rights after you file a workers’ comp claim.

  • You cannot be fired solely because you filed a workers’ comp claim. However, unless you qualify for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), your employer is not required to hold your job open for you.
    • If you are unable to work, FMLA can protect your job for up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period.
  • Your employer cannot retaliate or discriminate against you. For example, if you return full-time to the same position, your employer cannot reduce your pay solely because you filed a workers’ compensation claim in the past.
  • You have the right to reasonable accommodations after an injury or illness. If you can return to work with some restrictions, you can ask your employer for reasonable accommodations. Examples of reasonable accommodations include an additional rest break or special tools to do your job. Your employer may deny your request if they can demonstrate that the accommodation would cause a hardship.

If your rights have been violated after filing a workers’ comp claim, reach out to an experienced attorney for help immediately.

Injured on the Job in New York? Contact a Workers’ Comp Lawyer

Don’t let your employer or their insurance company take advantage of you. Contact us today for a free consultation to get answers to your workers’ comp questions and to preserve your legal rights.

  • Larchmont