Accidents at work are never planned. Despite safety procedures and precautions, though, accidents do happen. Hard-working individuals are often injured on the job and unable to get back to work. Such people may be left to navigate the complex and adversarial Workers’ Compensation system on their own. Knowing your rights and responsibilities is vital to ensure that you are protected, should you ever get hurt at work.
Workers’ Compensation is a “no fault” benefit. This means that what a person receives is not affected by carelessness or fault, whether that of the employee or the employer. Filing for Workers’ Compensation is not the same as suing your employer (which is not generally a legal option in New York).
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board is the state agency that administers all claims for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Benefits under the system may include financial payments and medical care, which are usually provided by your employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier. Injuries sustained as a result of an accident, as well as conditions that develop over time because of your work duties, may be compensable.
If you are hurt at work, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Following an accident, go to an emergency room, urgent care center, or make an appointment with a doctor. Advise the doctor how you were hurt at work and provide a detailed summary of all of your physical complaints. The physician must be authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Board, unless it is an emergency situation.
You should complete and file an accident report with your employer within thirty (30) days of your injury. If your employer does not provide an accident report, you should still send written notice to your employer within 30 days. The notice should detail your injuries and how they occurred. It is best to keep a copy of this report or notice for your records. Be aware, however, that filing an accident report is not the same as filing a claim.
A C-3 Employee Claim Form must be timely filed with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board in order to protect your rights and satisfy the statute of limitations. The sooner your claim is filed, the sooner the Board will be able to process it. In our experience, the faster the appropriate forms are completed, the quicker your benefits will begin.
Every case is unique and the amount you will receive depends upon whether your claim is accepted or denied, the types of injuries you sustained, how much you were making in the year prior to your accident, the applicable minimum and maximum rates set by law, and the medical evidence regarding your disability status.
Finally, if you have an attorney, you should follow his or her instructions, as the Workers’ Compensation system has strict rules and timelines that must be followed in order to ensure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. Your attorney will be able to help you navigate the complex intricacies of the Workers’ Compensation system and handle issues such as:
- Attending hearings,
- Litigating the compensability of your claim,
- Setting your proper average weekly wage,
- Addressing concurrent employment,
- Medical depositions regarding your degree of disability,
- Labor market attachment trials,
- Treatment disputes,
- Your permanent impairment level,
- Reimbursement for mileage and out-of-pocket expenses,
- Drafting and filing appeals and rebuttals, and
- Negotiating a potential settlement of your claim.