How the Workers Compensation Landscape has Changed and Why You Need an Attorney’s Help Now More than Ever

If you Google ‘Workers’ Compensation in New York State,’ some government websites come up at the top of the list, but then a few links down, many legal sites come up urging people to file their workers’ compensation claims right away. Why the sense of urgency? For starters, it is important to be covered in the event of a work-related accident. The other, not so obvious, reason is because the workers’ compensation landscape has changed very drastically in New York State and a few other states, such as Florida and Tennessee.

According to an in-depth article by ProPublica, a journalism advocacy group, New York State has, “chopped compensation for workers with permanent disabilities, such as back injuries, by at least 20 percent.” Decreases in claim validation, and an increase in taxpayers footing the bill for workplace accidents, have gone somewhat unnoticed and the federal government hasn’t been monitoring state workers’ comp laws like they did ten years ago.

So why the funding decrease? The decreases, posed as reforms, were spurred on by the recessions of 2001 and 2007 – 2009. States were desperate to attract local businesses and, as a result, made cuts to lower costs. In order to compensate, tax-funded government programs have had to increase. This interactive chart gives details on state workers’ compensation cuts and where they have hit the most.

Paul Leigh, a health economist at the University of California, Davis, conducted a study that found that workers’ comp. covered “less than a third of injured workers’ medical costs and lost earnings in 2007 and that government programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid had shelled out about $30 billion to fill part of the gap. The rest came from basic health and disability insurance or out of workers’ pockets,” Leigh said.

Some people have speculated that the workers’ compensation decrease was due to fraud. According to the same ProPublica article, “few of the cuts were driven by concerns about fraud, which is estimated to account for only a small percentage of the $60 billion spent on workers’ comp each year.”

Although New York State is the least expensive state hospital-fee wise, at “71-percent below the median for all states measured,” healthcare and expenses for accident survivors can be astronomical; especially over a lifetime. This is why it is so important to get legal help to ensure the best coverage possible.

Now, more than ever, the help of a competent attorney is necessary when dealing with the results of a work-related injury and workers compensation. Contact the law offices of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP should you or someone you know get injured in a work-related accident.

Have questions? Talk to our attorneys directly at our Workers’ Compensation Seminars across Upstate New York! We’ll be stopping in Utica, Plattsburgh and Lake Placid!