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The Quagmire of Workers' Compensation in New York

The New York state workers' compensation system is known as one of the largest, yet least effective, of its kind. The $5.5 billion-a-year process is full of drawn-out procedures where injured workers often wait months, or even years, to receive financial aid or healthcare.

The Workers' Compensation Research Institute found New York to be the slowest state to pay injured workers their first disability check. Delays in payment are often due to insurance companies appealing on whether a claimed injury is real, or whether it was truly sustained on the job.

In New York, one in six cases involves a dispute from the insurer. These disputed cases take over nine months to resolve, on average. Even undisputed cases can take years to resolve. In 2007, undisputed cases in New York involving missed work days took an average of 802 days to reach the final resolution stage. This is 30% longer than in the rest of the U.S.

While insurers are tough on injured workers' claims, the insurance companies are often let off with much lesser consequences by the commissioners. When an insurer commits an infraction, fines are often small and often go unpaid for years. Many insiders in the New York workers' compensation bureau admit that there is more injustice in the system towards injured workers than there are fraudulent claims.

In the past few years, there have been some changes in the New York system. In 2007, the maximum weekly benefit was raised. More reform is expected, such as improved record keeping. The number of fraudulent workers' compensation claims has never been recorded, but it is a serious problem that hurts everyone involved in the process.

Many injured workers are aware of the downfalls of the New York system and avoid filing workers' compensation claims. Instead, they use their regular healthcare or apply for only Social Security Disability or welfare to get them through.

If you have been injured on the job, it is essential to find an attorney with experience in workers' compensation cases. It is important to find a lawyer who will compassionately help you wade through this tricky bureaucratic system.

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