What is workers’ compensation law?

The New York State Workers’ Compensation Law covers any employee who sustains an injury while in the course of employment.  The injury could be from an accident or a repetitive accident occurring on a particular day, or the injury could develop as a result of the employee’s work over the course of time (an occupational disease).  Every workers’ compensation case is adjudicated by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board where hearings are held to determine entitlement to wage replacement benefits and/or medical benefits pertaining to the work-related injury.

What else do I need to know about Workers’ Compensation and filing a Workers’ Compensation claim?

There is literally too much information to be given to you to present it here.

The “ins and outs,” of the Workers’ Compensation Law are, in our opinion, best handled by attorneys or Licensed Representatives who have been trained to deal with the intricacies of the law. Virtually every decision of an Administrative Law Judge at a Workers’ Compensation hearing is appealable by the party unhappy with that decision.

The insurance defense industry makes a great deal of money fighting claims. This is what they do for a living. On the other hand, claimants counsel, such as our firm, make our living defeating the insurance carriers’ attorneys wherever possible and we only make money if we are successful in prosecuting your claim.

There is much more for you to know; about hearings; about what to do if the insurance company fights your case by denying that you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation. You need to know your rights for reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical and transportation expenses. You need to know that you should never pay a health provider or hospital for treatment in connection with an on-the-job injury or illness.

You need to know what to do if your head, neck, or back are injured. What if you have a heart attack or a hernia, or a stroke, or broken ribs, or other trunk-of-the-body ailments caused by your work?

You need to know the nature and quality of medical reports submitted in your case by your health care providers. You need to know the dangers of putting your job and “voluntarily withdrawing from the labor market;” something that could disqualify you for future benefits.

You need to know not to just, “retire,” from your job because of your injuries, but to do it in a certain way and manner, with the advice of your doctor and your attorney, so that your retiring does not, “withdraw you from the labor market.”
There is so very much more that comes up in almost every Workers’ Compensation case. What do you do when the insurance carrier assigns an investigator to follow you around; what do you do if the insurance carrier sends you to one of their defensive medical doctors?

These and many more issues represent the intricacies of the Workers’ Compensation Law and the prosecution of a claim.

It is, for this reason, we feel you should have an attorney with you on every claim, whether it is our firm or another.

How is my attorney paid?

All fees are determined by the Workers’ Compensation Board. Your attorney will make an application to the Board for a fee, based upon services provided of the work done on the case, and the results obtained in terms of monetary compensation and medical care. The Administrative Law Judge, and ultimately the Workers’ Compensation Board, must approve any such fee.

How long am I entitled to medical care?

Although certain cases are settled and your right to medical care is given up in exchange for a settlement from the insurance company, usually medical care is for life, for those parts of the body, “established” as covered by your Workers’ Compensation claim.

What types of doctors may I see?

Medical doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors and certain psychologists are all authorized to treat under the Workers’ Compensation Law. A psychologist must be at least a PHD, and you must be referred to that person by one of your treating physicians, a medical doctor. Chiropractic is covered; Podiatry is covered; the services of a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialists (Physiatrist), etc. Any type of Specialist who accepts Workers’ Compensation patients is covered under the law. This includes Cardiologists, Pulmonary Specialists, and virtually every specialty in medicine is acceptable.

Who chooses the doctor I must see?

Except with certain employers who have an agreement with the Union to opt-out of the Workers’ Compensation entitlement to use any doctor, you may choose any doctor in the State of New York, who is authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Board to treat Workers’ Compensation cases. This includes most doctors in the State. Under special circumstances, you may be entitled to use specialists out of state or doctors in the locality where you live, should you move out of state.

What happens if I die due to an on-the-job injury?

Should you die due to an on-the-job injury or illness from your employment, your widowed spouse and children who are minors may be entitled to a death benefit. Such benefits would be payable until the children are legal adults and until your spouse re-marries.

When does coverage begin?

Inside workers are covered from the time they arrive at work until they leave. If you are an outside worker, you may be covered “door-to-door,” from the time you leave your home until the time you enter your home in the evening. If you are on a trip for your employer, you are covered if you are injured or taken ill.

Is there a waiting period before I am eligible for benefits?

On initial periods of disability there is a one week waiting period before you are due money benefits. However, if you are out of work and disabled for more than two weeks, the waiting period is waived retroactive to your first day of medical treatment for disability. Medical benefits have no waiting period.