An Urgent Message On Behalf Of Our Firm

HELP US STOP THE ATTACK ON WORKERS’ COMPENSATION! 

Below are several ways you can stand with us in opposition against these changes:

Sign these two petitions to make your voice known-Petition from AFL-CIO and Petition at MoveOn.org

Mail this postcard to the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board with a message to help you stand up for your rights.

Email your state senator stating your opposition to the changes. If you don’t know who your senator is, click here for the Senate’s website to find out.

THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD ENDS OCTOBER 23RD.

Follow the above methods to protect your rights before the comment period is over.


This past April, the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board was given the green-light to draft changes to the way payments are calculated for permanent injuries to extremities (Schedule Loss of Use evaluations). These suggestions were completed September 1st, and they ultimately resulted in drastic cuts to claimant’s benefits and, in many cases, elimination of any payment at all beyond the payment for lost time, even in cases where a fracture is sustained or surgery is necessary.

Sustaining a permanent work injury is already a stressful and life changing situation.   The current benefit calculations very often don’t even compensate an injured worker adequately for what they have lost both physically and economically.  Now, the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board and the New York Business community have just taken the next step in making it that much more difficult for claimant’s to get back up on their feet.

These guidelines call for the removal of rights that are intrinsic to the purpose of Worker’s Compensation Law. On top of drastic cuts to benefits during recovery, the guidelines provide greater discretion to the employers and IMEs. This will essentially create an environment of exploitation by those who oversee the injured party. These guidelines were not made in the interest of injured workers, and go against the foundation of what this law is supposed to do.

These proposed regulation and guideline changes are not only an egregious attempt to sharply reduce and/ or eliminate compensation awards to our injured members, they would also strip tens of thousands of injured workers of very important protections and due process rights by affording the employer/carrier doctors the ability to question the worker on non-medical issues, with associated penalties for “failure to comply” with the doctors’ inquiries. This is completely contrary to the purposes and intent of the NYS Workers Compensation Law, a law which has been in existence for over 100 years and was designed to protect those very same injured workers.

It is important to remember that, with the passing of the NYS Workers Compensation Law, the right of injured workers to sue their employers in cases of permanent injury was eliminated in exchange for a system which provides fair compensation for lost time and especially for permanent loss of functioning in extremity injuries. Should these new regulations be approved, our injured members will be left with little or no recourse when they sustain permanent loss of functioning of extremities while performing their work activities.

If adopted, these proposed regulation and guideline changes will certainly adversely affect our members. As a result, I implore you to take any and all action to help stop these proposals from taking effect.

NYCERS denies NYC EMT disability, MDASR steps up.

MDASR, LLP wins another important ¾’s Article 78 case!

An FDNY EMT suffered severe illnesses and injuries related to her heroic actions during the 9/11 clean-up operations. After being initially denied ¾’s Disability Retirement benefits from the New York City Employees Retirement System (“NYCERS”), a Supreme Court judge found that the NYCERS Medical Board acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in finding her not disabled. This represents a legal finding that NYCERS acted without “any credible evidence” to support its decision. The judge went on to note that the NYCERS Medical Board did not counter the EMT’s own treating physicians, nor those of the FDNY’s own physicians who had all found her incapable of performing the full duties required of an EMT. More importantly, the judge also found that the NYCERS Medical Board had failed to discuss the specific job duties and responsibilities required of an EMT, nor how our client could do the job despite her well documented physical limitations.

MDASR continues to help level the playing field for injured workers seeking disability benefits. If you were injured as a result of your job, call us today at (631) 665-0609.

 

Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Another Reminder That Initial Injury Reports Matter, Do Them Properly!

ANOTHER REMINDER THAT INITIAL INJURY REPORTS MATTER, DO THEM PROPERLY!

By: Sean Riordan, Esq.

Each and every time that I speak to union members throughout New York I harp on the importance of properly filling out the initial injury reports following an on-the-job occurrence. Recently a member said to me that they had “heard me give this speech a hundred times” to which I replied, “it’s as true today as it was the first time you heard it.” Helping me prove my point, just last month the Appellate Division again affirmed the tantamount importance of a Correction Officer’s initial injury report in the case of Hernandez v. New York City Employees’ Retirement System (“NYCERS”). While the lesson may be old and repetitive, it bears repeating.

In Hernandez v. NYCERS a NYC Correction Officer claimed to have been injured when an “inmate pushed her.” Ordinarily, this “act of an inmate” is sufficient to qualify a Correction Officer for a three-quarters (3/4’s) disability pension. However, as we have seen many times, NYCERS denied the Officer’s ¾’s application because the “contemporaneous documentation”, i.e. the initial injury reports, did not mention that the officer had been pushed by the inmate. The Court specifically wrote:

“Contrary to the [officer’s] contention, [NYCERS] was not required, as a matter of law, to credit her testimony that her injury occurred when she was pushed by an inmate. Indeed, her testimony conflicted with the account of the accident that was given in written reports that were prepared in connection with the incident. Inconsistencies between a petitioner’s sworn testimony and written documents present a credibility issue for the factfinder to resolve.”

Put plainly, this means that NYCERS does not have to accept as truthful a later, not previously documented description of how an injury occurred. It also means that the Court gives NYCERS extreme deference in determining which version of events they choose to believe, the initial injury report descriptions or a subsequent description of the occurrence. It is no secret which of these two choices NYCERS will choose. In fact, the NYCERS Summary Plan description for NYC Correction Officers explicitly states:

The NYCERS Medical Board and Board of Trustees are likely to believe that disability reports filed as soon as possible after an accident or other event have greater credibility than reports filed after a delay.”

Importantly, the credibility that NYCERS gives these reports is not contained to the inmate’s actions, but also to injury sites. NYCERS will look to these initial injury reports to determine what was injured during the inmate occurrence. If the initial reports do not contain the injury site that now disables you, NYCERS will not consider the injury related to the occurrence. Far too often officers feel extreme pain in one area of their body following an occurrence and only “minor” pain in others. Although the officer fully documents the area that is causing them a lot of immediate pain, they fail to include these other “minor” areas in their reports. Unfortunately, these other “minor injuries” frequently become more severe over time but NYCERS will not consider them related to the occurrence because they were not documented at the time of the injury.

Hernandez also makes clear that the “action” of an inmate is important when determining if an officer qualifies for ¾’s. The Court stated that “the mere fact that the [officer] was injured while she was in the presence of an inmate, or while she was engaged in providing a service for the benefit of an inmate, is insufficient” to qualify for ¾’s coverage. The courts have held that an inmate must perform an “affirmative act” that leads to an officer’s injury in order for coverage to apply.

Two simple rules emerge from the Hernandez case and other cases like it:

1) If an inmate was involved in your injury, fully document what action the inmate took that led to your injury. Fully describe what the inmate did that caused you harm;

2) Take a physical inventory or your body following an occurrence and document each and every body part that hurts in the initial paperwork, don’t overlook an injury site simply because you believe it is “minor.” If it hurts, put it down.

Lastly, if you fail to fully describe how the inmate caused your injury, or failed to put an injury site down on the initial injury report, you can and should use your filings with the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board to correct the record. Understandably, immediately after an injury officers are consumed by the pain they are feeling and/or are anxious about the events that just transpired. This can lead to mistakes/omissions in the initial injury report filled out for the Department. This is why filing your NYS Workers’ Compensation Forms as soon as possible after an occurrence is so important. If filed immediately after an injury, these reports can also be viewed as “contemporaneous documentation” of an event or injury. Use these forms to also fully explain the events that led to your injury and any additional sites of injury which you may have neglected to put down on the initial reports.

As always, if you have any problems, issues, concerns or questions I am always here to discuss the case with you. You can reach me any time at (212) 612-3198 or Sean@nycomplaw.com

Stay Safe!

 

Attorney Advertising.

NYPD’s ShotSpotter yields positive results

NYPD is reporting that the gunshot-locating technology ShotSpotter has helped lower shootings throughout Brooklyn and the Bronx. An article on nydailynews.com grants a number of accomplishments as a result of the technology: “The rise comes as both arrests by police and complaints against officers are down substantially while the department adheres to a new policing philosophy that stresses a closer relationship between cops and the neighborhoods they serve.” Another triumph is noted by the same article, stating that, “…34% of shootings detected by ShotSpotter also resulting in a 911 call, according to 2016 statistics.” The technology can detect acoustics and is able to differentiate between gunshots and other loud noises that typically come with living in The Big Apple.

The implementation of the technology was a move to help officers and community members. With a possible federal budget cut looming, this program cannot afford to be lost considering its results. The technology draws a picture of how many detected shots are called into 911 and how many aren’t. The data collected will tell cops how New Yorkers are responding to shootings. Not only has it statistically cut the number of non-reported gunshots almost in half, but it also draws a clearer picture of shootings. Nearly all ShotSpotter-detected shootings that were associated with a 911 call resulted in a weapon being obtained from the crime scene. More weapons are being collected and more calls are being made as a result of this technology. According to an article posted on NY1.com the year the technology first implemented, it covered three housing districts and 17 precincts. It has doubled in reach since then.

This technology has been in place for about two years, but the improvements in the data are new, as well as the plan to expand this technology to all five boroughs.

NYPD: New ‘ShotSpotter’ Sensors Automatically Detect Location of Gunfire

EXCLUSIVE: NYPD ShotSpotter gunfire sensors improve rates of 911 calls, arrests

 

NYPD gears up after London attack in wake of proposed budget cut

Last week, the Trump administration released their plan for a 10% spike in military spending. Roughly $700 million in federal grants from the Department of Homeland Security would be cut, according to an article posted on Newsday.com. These are the same grants that provide funding for counterterrorism efforts for local law enforcement agencies across the country, affecting everything from equipment to manpower. An estimated $110 million in DHS grants would be cut from their budget. Considering the NYPD is the largest municipal police force in the country, this kind of cut to their nearly $5 Billion budget is worrisome, to say the least. Senator Chuck Schumer and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill appeared in Washington DC to show how important this funding is. Commissioner O’Neill stated in a New York Daily News article, “This is critical for our operation… that $110 million represents about 600 cops. I don’t think there’s clearer terms than that.” The $110 Million cut is just one estimated slash. An article on NYMag.com says that the cut could be as high has $190 million. Schumer told New York Daily News that in 2016 the NYPD received $180 million in DHS grants for the same kind of programs and operations that would be defunded under the currently proposed budget plan, which means that all or most of what the NYPD has to support their counterterrorism programs would be taken away.

This came shortly before a terror attack in London this week. New York City and the NYPD responded by ramping up security at its British locations, according to Newsday. The British Consulate General and the U.K. Mission to the U.N. are just two locations that have been given extra security. Most of the security for these locations came from the NYPD’s Critical Response Command, a team that would greatly feel the weight of the budget cuts, along with other crucial counterterrorism programs. Schumer has been successful in stopping these kinds of budget cuts to the city in the past, and we can only hope he and Commissioner O’Neill are successful in stopping this now.

Please see the articles below for sources and further information.

London attack: NYPD steps up security at British locations in NYC

EXCLUSIVE: NYPD top cop James O’Neill visits Washington to battle Trump’s security funding cuts

NYPD top cop James O’Neill says Trump’s budget would severely impede the city’s fight against terrorism

Schumer: Trump would cut $200M from NYPD anti-terrorism, other funds

NYPD Commissioner Says Trump’s Budget Would ‘Hobble’ Counterterrorism Efforts

 

New WC bills put worker at risk

Three new bills have been supported by the Business Council of New York as reforms to workers’ compensation insurance. In no subtle manner, the Business Council specifically favors the employer and insurance carrier in each of these bills, citing that some awards give too much back to the injured worker for too long a period of time. The most recent of the three was introduced at the beginning of this month.

All three proposed Bills currently hold an “In Committee” status according to the New York Senate website. Bill A5977 addresses impairment guidelines for Schedule Loss of Use awards, or SLU awards. Bill A6218 aims to limit workers’ compensation benefits for partial permanent disability (PPD) benefits. Lastly, Bill A6602 focuses on the schedule of the Permanent Partial Disability benefits, which the previous stated Bill already aims to limit. The benefits would be given for a determined amount of time after the date of accident, and any other PPD benefits that exceeded the rate would be paid to the insurance carrier. Bills A5977 and A6218 were both introduced at the end of February but A6602 was introduced this month, on March 9th. Another aim of the Bills is to extend the opt-out period for employers from 30 days to 120 days.

In an overwhelming public response against these proposed bills, a petition on MoveOn.Org received more than 600 signatures overnight. On March 16th the bill had 339 with a goal of 400, which was ultimately far surpassed. On the 17th, the petition had 1,012 and a new goal set to 2,000. Although the website does not currently state when the petition started, the first signature was submitted on March 9th, the same day that most recent Bill was introduced. The links to the Bills as well as the petition are all linked below. MDASR, LLP. stands opposed to these proposed bills and urges all those concerned with the protection of workers’ rights to sign this petition.

Assembly Bill A5977

Assembly Bill A6218

Assembly Bill A6602

Workers’ Compensation Petition

New FDNY methods, programs improve performance

For the first time, the FDNY deployed one of its three drones over a fire in the Bronx. Having a birds-eye view helped the crew on the ground monitor the safety of the group trying to control the fire, as well as letting them better direct them as well. This ultimately lead to the ground team being able to keep firefighters safeThe drone was manned by firefighters who are part of the FDNY Command Tactical Unit, who are trained specifically to operate the drones. An article posted on www1.nyc.gov goes into greater detail, stating, “The FDNY drone is tethered using a small cable that carries electricity up to the device, which gives the drone an unlimited flight time. The drone can stay aloft for as long as necessary to keep an aerial view on the target. All controls, data, and power transmit back and forth through the tether preventing interference with radio frequency signals. The drone is piloted by specially trained FDNY Firefighters from the Department’s Command Tactical Unit. The Department currently has three drones in its fleet to deploy as needed.” The safety of these firefighters and individuals alike is paramount to the FDNY, and new technology has only helped that cause.

The use of their drones is not the only new method they’ve used. The FDNY has recently reported being able to respond to medical emergencies quicker due to ‘fly cars’. The pilot program, which took off last summer according to the New York Post, has cut response time by more than a minute. As detailed by an article on NY Post, “Fly cars are accompanied by pared down “basic life support” ambulances, which can transport people to the hospital. If the fly car’s paramedic and lieutenant are no longer needed to perform first aid, they can then move on to the next emergency.”

FDNY commissioner touts faster response times with ‘fly cars’

FDNY Launches Drone For The First Time To Respond to Fire In The Bronx

Work site safety hazards results in lawsuit

A Long Island man has suffered two severed nerves and three severed veins after falling from part of a construction work site that lacked a secure and safe exit point. According to DNAinfo.com, Michael Hickey was injured while working in 2015 on the new water tunnel that will soon connect Staten Island and Brooklyn. “The suit claims the city failed to provide a “scaffold, ladder and/or other safety device” to help workers climb out of the tunnel during construction. Workers instead had to climb a patch of land that had “slick, slippery rocks hidden beneath muck and unlevel, hole-laden, raised depressed and obscured surface,” as quoted from DNAinfo.com. The suit was filed against the city for $2 million. Due to the severity of his injuries, Hickey was unable to continue his work at the construction site. The article notes that Hickey’s lawsuit was transferred on February 25th, 2017 to a Staten Island court after it was initially filed in Brooklyn.

Work site safety in the construction industry has been a topic of severity for the past few years. It recently came to a head in January when 21 new bills were introduced to bolster work site safety. To further reflect the importance of this, an article posted on NYDailynews.com states “Incidents involving either fatalities or injuries jumped from 128 in 2011 to 435 in 2015 in the state as a whole. Meanwhile, the number of safety inspections by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the state fell each year, from 2,722 in 2011 to 1,966 in 2015, the study found. That’s a drop of about 27%, and the study said that’s mostly because of a reduction in the number of OSHA inspectors in New York State — from 82 in 2012 to 66 in 2015.”

This is all came prior to a bill recently submitted by  Housing and Building Committee Chair Jumaane Williams and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, along with the support of other City officials, to help mandate better safety training and skills for workers.

Please see the links below for more information.

City Forced Workers to Scale Muddy Bank to Exit Water Tunnel, Lawsuit Says

City Council can protect NYC workers from construction accidents by mandating better training

 

 

 

Neighborhood Policing initiative receives $20 Mil budget

In the wake of a newly ratified NYPD PBA contract, the NYPD just received a hefty budget for their Queens precincts to bolster Mayor de Blasio’s Neighborhood Policing Initiative. The new PBA contract includes a 2.25% raise as part of the program but will be going to all officers regardless of their participation. According to an article posted on AM New York, the breakdown of the budget is as follows;

  • Just over half of the budget will be going to purchasing vehicles for all Queens precincts-164 total vehicles.
  • Close to $3 Million will be spent on technology for recruits and their superiors, specifically tablets.
  • Over $2 Million will be spent on replacing old AEDs with new ones.
  • $1.6 Million will be spent on providing NYPD members with safer gun holsters.

Please see the link below for more information.

NYPD gets more than $20M for new equipment in Queens precincts

 

PBA contract ratified

On February 27th, the previously tentative agreement between the City and the PBA was ratified. This is the first time in 5 years that the PBA has been under a union contract. It gives the current NYPD officers a total 11.25% raise over the life of the contract, but also ultimately lowers the pay for future officers, according to an article posted on The Chief Leader. The raise that current cops get will cause future cops to take longer to get to the maximum salary.  The article notes that “The pact also features a significantly improved disability benefit for cops hired after 2009 and gives all officers the right to cash in all unused leave days once they exit the NYPD. It also implements the city’s body-camera program, which will expand to affect 5,000 patrol officers by July 2018 and require all those on patrol to wear and operate them by the end of the following year.” According to the New York Daily News, ¾ disability pensions will be made available to new PBA members with as low as 1% employee contribution. This is a success for Mayor de Blasio, who has recently had a rocky relationship with the NYPD. The agreement was reached February 27th with an overwhelming amount of union members participating in the vote and just 2% of members voting against the contract. The agreement also requires all officers to be fitted with body cameras by 2019.

PBA Pact Ratified By 98% of Members Due To Added Pay Hike

PBA Contract Ballots Mailed Out, Must Be Returned by Feb. 27