When Volunteer Firefighters and Ambulance Workers Get Injured

Many municipalities in New York State have volunteer firefighters and/or ambulance workers. The communities appreciate the dedication and passion the volunteers show, and the legislature has acknowledged those that are injured in the line of duty by passing laws to protect their rights. The Volunteer Firefighters’ Law was enacted in 1957, and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers’ Law came much later in 1989. These laws allow for medical care and cash benefits to be awarded to the volunteers injured on the job, unless the injury was caused by intoxication or if the claimant was intentionally hurting oneself or another.

Receiving benefits can be challenging because of the deadlines, hearings, and appeals process. Seeking the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney could make the difference in whether an injured volunteer is properly compensated or not.

One of the challenges is determining whether the injury occurred “in the line of duty.” Some situations are easily identified—such as responding to a 911 call or during training. Other injuries, such as an illness caused by smoke or chemicals exposed to when volunteering, can require a more skilled analysis to determine whether it falls within the statutory guidelines.

Another fact-intensive analysis involved is in calculating the claimant’s earning capacity. Each claimant is analyzed on an individual basis because there is no standard salary associated with the volunteer firefighter and ambulance services. Age, education, training, and experience are all factors to be considered, even if the volunteer is unemployed at the time of injury.

The New York State Compensation Board may hold hearings to weigh evidence and whether the claim is compensable. A workers’ compensation law judge presides over the hearing. After the judge’s decision, both parties have 30 days to appeal the judge’s finding, and if granted, the claim will go before a panel of three board members. If the panel does not come to a unanimous decision, a party may request a full board review as a last resort.

Retaining an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help guide you through the workers’ compensation claims process. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

Musculoskeletal Conditions Cause Injuries for Employees

It is common to hear coworkers complain of back or neck pain. What some may not realize is that according to the United States Bone and Joint Initiative’s 2012 statistics, the most recent data available, approximately 25.5 million people were unable to work an average of 11.4 days as a result of pain. Back and neck pain are considered to be a musculoskeletal condition, along with arthritis and osteoporosis. In 2012, about 126.6 million Americans were diagnosed with these diseases. Lost wages and annual medical treatment cost Americans approximately $213 billion. This includes costs to individuals, businesses, and medical facilities. When it comes to illness and work performance, aspects of workers’ compensation and employment law are implicated.

Even if an employee’s musculoskeletal condition is not caused by work, the condition may be exacerbated or lead to on the job injuries. Employees need to be aware that workers’ compensation law is complicated, and when injured while performing work duties, it is vital to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for protection of employment status and compensation for medical expenses and related costs. An experienced attorney can help determine if the injury qualifies under workers’ compensation law, and also advise you on what paperwork needs to be filed. Skillful workers’ compensation attorneys can guide employees on which claims to file and how to handle preexisting conditions. An attorney can help protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.

The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

Governor Cuomo Appoints New Executive Director to the Workers’ Compensation Board

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the appointment of Mary Beth Woods as the new Executive Director of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board. Mark Wade, the prior Executive Director, resigned in December 2015 to work as the Chief Claims Officer for Argo Group’s U.S. Operations. Along with Ms. Woods, six other individuals were appointed to various positions in governmental agencies as well.

Ms. Woods has worked for the NY Compensation Board for over 15 years. She held positions within the organization such as Deputy Executive Director, Director of Financial Administration, and Director of Leasing. Ms. Woods is a New York State certified public accountant, and before joining the Board, she worked for the New York State Division of the Budget, and as a supervising senior accountant at KPMG Peat Marwick. She holds a Bachelors in Science Degree in Business Administration from Siena College.

Additionally, Ms. Woods is a Board Member of the Compensation Insurance Rating Board, and is a past Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Group Self Insurance. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo commented on his appointees, stating, “their commitment to public service will be instrumental in our efforts to build a safer and stronger New York and I look forward to working with them in service to the people of our state.”

Not much is known about what changes, if any, Ms. Woods intends to implement. If you have been injured on the job and think you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation, contact an attorney who is experienced in that field. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

Urban Institute Releases Report Detailing Social Security Disability Demographics

The Urban Institute recently issued a report detailing demographic trends affecting the social security disability (SSDI) program.

The report details the growth of the social security disability program over the past 45 years. In 1970, there were 1.5 million DI recipients and, in 2013, there were nearly 9 million disabled workers. The report cited the growing pool of older individuals, the changing job market for less-educated workers, and changes in federal policy, as the reasons for the sharp increase in DI beneficiaries, including eligibility criteria and the Social Security full retirement age.

According to The Urban Institute, most DI recipients come from lower-income status’; 47 percent of recipients ages 31 to 49 fell in the bottom 20 percent of household incomes, while only 4 percent of recipients in the same age group were in the top 20 percent.

The age distributions for DI workers tilt more towards the older age groups because, as the population ages, there is a higher probability of illness. In 2013, approximately 32 percent of male DI workers were 60 years old and above, up to full retirement age when DI switches over to social security. Looking at males ages 55 to 59, the percentage drops from 32 percent to 24 percent. For female recipients, the percentages are similar with just a slight increase in the lower age groups. The average age for females is 53.4, and for males is 53.5.

The report also showed disparities between the amount of benefits men and women receive on a monthly basis. In general, the monthly average benefit in 2013 was $1,146, but men collect more than that at $1,271 a month while women collect a mere $1,011 a month- 25 percent less than what men collected. The stated reasons for the discrepancy are the variations in earning capacity between men and women, and the types of jobs each gender typically occupies.
To qualify for DI, an applicant must have a disabling illness. In 1996 approximately 20 percent of beneficiaries were suffering from musculoskeletal or connective tissue diseases diseases, and by 2014, the percentage had increased to 31 percent according to the report. Circulatory diseases, on the other hand, decreased to only 8 percent in 2014 from 12 percent in 1996. The number of individuals qualifying under mental illness has been fairly consistent, falling between 30 and 34 percent overall.

The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles Social Security Disability claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. For more information, please call (866)-557-7500 or click here to speak with our office.

Sean Patrick Riordan Featured in Subway Surface Supervisors Association Express Magazine

Recently, Sean Patrick Riordan, Partner, McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP, was featured in Subway Surface Supervisors Association Express Magazine. Mr. Riordan’s article “Injured at Work?” provided proper guidelines for workers who are injured while performing their job.

According to Mr. Riordan, an injured worker should first notify their employer of his or her injury, seek medical care for treatment and evaluation of the injury, contact an attorney to file a C3 injury with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, follow up with medical care and workers’ compensation case and finally, speak to an attorney if a long period of time must be taken off from work.

To read the full “Injured at Work?” article click here.

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OSHA Takes Action Against U.S. Steel for Retaliating Against Employees Who Delayed in Filing Workplace Injury Claims

When it comes to workers’ compensation claims, companies must abide by state and federal law, but they are able to implement their own internal policies. Some companies have a policy which requires employees to report an incident immediately. The issue with immediate reporting is that a workplace injury may not be symptomatic at the time of the incident or accident.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor filed suit against U.S. Steel for allegedly retaliating against two employees after the individuals reported injuries they sustained on the job. U.S. Steel’s policy is that employees must report injuries immediately. The two employees both reported injuries when they became symptomatic, and then were suspended without pay for not reporting sooner.

The first incident occurred when a technician had a small splinter in his thumb, which he was able to remove himself without any complications. Days later, though, his thumb became infected and medical treatment was necessary. At that point, the technician reported the incident because of the required medical treatment, and his supervisor suspended him for five days without pay.
The second employee, a laborer located in a different plant, bumped his head on a beam. At the time, the employee was wearing a hard hat and did not feel any pain. After some time passed, the employee noticed an issue with his shoulder, possibly caused by his contact with the beam. The employee sought medical treatment, and reported the incident to his employer. This employee, as well, was suspended for a period of five days without pay.

Both employees filed complaints against U.S. Steel with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), claiming that their suspensions were in retaliation for reporting injuries. OSHA found that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of Section 11(c), the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking to enjoin U.S. Steel from retaliating against employees, for revision of the company’s internal policy, and to rescind the disciplinary action taken against the two injured workers.

Skillful workers’ compensation attorneys can guide employees on which claims to file and how to handle internal workplace policy. An attorney can help protect your rights and help preserve your coverage should further injury stemming from an accident become known later. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.