Workers’ Compensation in New York

Workers’ Compensation in New York is something you should be interested in if you live and work in this state, or if you have been injured on your job or become ill due to the nature of the work that you do. You may be involved in a dispute with your employer regarding compensation for that injury or illness at the present time.

You need to be aware of what workers’ compensation is. Workers’ compensation is a type of business insurance. It gives you and/or your family benefits in the form of medical coverage, income and rehabilitation when you suffer injury, illness or death in the course of, or as a result of, your job. This is true regardless of who was at fault for your injury or illness.

These are financial benefits that may be given to your surviving spouse and/or children if you were to lose your life at your place of employment. These benefits are yours or your dependents or survivors as a matter of “right.” Your employer cannot resort to any legal defense. In return for this, you are not allowed to sue your employer for your injuries or death. Your surviving spouse and/or children or dependents are also not allowed to sue your employer for your injuries or death.

The reason workers’ compensation laws came into being was to relieve the requirement that you would have to prove that your injuries or illness was the “fault” of your employer and to reduce the need for litigation. Workers’ compensation laws began in Maryland in 1902. In 1906, the first federal workers’ compensation law was passed. All of the states passed workers’ compensation laws by 1949.

Your health and safety at your workplace is protected at the national level by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA, at the national level, has the responsibility of making sure that your workplace is healthy and safe. (link to page Workplace Safety in New York) These national regulations are complemented by state laws that vary from state to state.

When it comes to workers’ compensation, however, no national agency exists that requires all employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits. The laws concerning workers’ compensation vary from state to state.

Workers’ compensation in New York is administered by the New York State Department of Labor. The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board is the agency that specifically administers workers’ compensation in New York.

The state of New York has had a no–fault workers’ compensation system for nearly a century. Workers’ compensation in New York can be traced back to a tragic fire in 1911, at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. 146 people died as a result of the fire. It was the greatest workplace disaster in New York until the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11. The fire led to the workers’ compensation system in New York.

In 2007, a sweeping workers’ compensation reform measure was passed in New York. Since then, benefits have increased and costs have decreased. Injured workers are now getting benefits faster.

Workers’ compensation in New York is required for virtually all employers with a few exceptions like volunteers for nonprofit organizations who receive no compensation and clergy and members of religious orders performing religious duties. It is important for you to know and remember that your employer has to provide workers’ compensation for you. It is mandatory, not voluntary.

Several workers’ compensation benefits are available to you in New York. Some of these are:

  • Cash benefits – Cash benefits are not paid for the first seven days of the disability, unless it goes past fourteen days. In that case, you may receive cash benefits from the first work day off the job.
  • Medical benefits – Any necessary medical care that you need is provided no matter how short or how long the length of your disability. You are allowed to choose your physician from a list of doctors provided by the Workers’ Compensation Board.
  • Supplemental benefits – These are made available to people who are thought to be most affected by rising costs. This includes those who are classified as being permanently and totally disabled.
  • Social Security benefits – If you become seriously disabled for a continuous period of at least 12 months, or you are permanently disabled, as a result of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, you may be eligible for monthly Social Security benefits.
  • Death benefits – If you die as a result of a compensable injury, your surviving spouse and/or minor children, and lacking such, other dependents as defined by law, may receive weekly cash benefits.

The Workers’ Compensation Board may hold a hearing or hearings before a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge to determine your workers’ compensation claim. The judge may take testimony, review medical and other evidence and will decide whether you are entitled to benefits. If your claim is determined to be compensable, the Judge determines the amount and duration of the compensation award.

Either side has the right to appeal the decision within 30 days of the filing of the judge’s decision. This is done by applying in writing for board review. A panel of three board members will review your case if your application is granted. This panel may affirm, modify or rescind the judge’s decision, or restore the case to the law judge for further development of the record.

If you are in a dispute with your employer over workers’ compensation benefits, it should be obvious from the hearing procedure given above that this is not something you should try to handle. You will need the help of a legal professional.

But, how do you choose the right attorney. Family lawyers and those who have a general practice are good, but are they the right ones for this type of case.

An employment attorney is one who knows and specializes in matters involving employment law in New York. These are the kind of cases they work with every day. You are probably going to need the services of an employment attorney.

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