Medical And Wage Coverage For Worker Injury Or Illness In New York

Many workers complain about certain aspects of their jobs. Employee grumblings may range from relatively insignificant matters to valid concerns about safety. With the poor working conditions some employees face, it is amazing how people make it through their days healthy and uninjured. While the danger of workplace harm varies with the type of work performed, every worker could experience an injury or illness while working at some point.

In New York, eligible employees may receive help with their medical bills and lost wages through their employer's workers' compensation coverage, which exists to assist people exposed to workplace illnesses or injured in work-related accidents.

So Many Dangers, So Little Time

According to the most recent numbers posted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, there were around 3.7 million reported workplace injuries and illnesses in 2008. Close to one-third of these incidents involved people missing work. During this period, just over 400,000 injuries were for sprains, strains or tears while back and fall-related injuries each accounted for over 200,000 cases. Additionally, illnesses accounted for just under 200,000 cases, with skin and respiratory diseases, poisonings and hearing loss listed as the leading conditions. The most common causes of workplace injuries vary, but are typically related to accidents that involve lifting, falling, driving or operating heavy equipment.

Car, truck and heavy machine accidents are the largest contributors to worker injuries and deaths, especially for those who drive for a living or work in the construction industry. However, almost any worker could suffer or exacerbate a back injury or sustain a lifting injury if improper techniques are used. Similarly, any worker could slip and fall while on work property, particularly if proper safety measures are not taken to prevent falls. For those who acquire illnesses at work, the cause is typically from exposure to high concentrations of hazardous substances, such as asbestos or radiation. Regardless, once bodily damage or sickness occurs, the victim is left to deal with how to recover and move forward.

Injured and Confused

After the initial shock and pain of a workplace injury is under control, it is time to think about filing a workers' compensation claim. In general, employers in New York must purchase and provide workers' compensation insurance to cover the medical and other costs for their employees who are injured or fall ill while on the job. Injured workers have a right to workers' compensation, regardless of who is at fault for an accident or injury, but these rights may be forfeited if an employee tries to harm himself or herself, another employee, or if alcohol or drugs were the only cause of the injury.

The New York State Workers' Compensation Board's website indicates that if employees are injured while working, they should follow a few basic steps:

  • Get the medical help that is necessary for the injury, whether from an emergency facility or an authorized health care provider listed on the Workers' Compensation Board website.
  • Tell the employer, in writing, about the injury within 30 days after the accident occurred or in the case of illness, supply written notification within two years after a diagnosis.
  • Fill out the workers' compensation paperwork, which may be found on the Workers' Compensation Board website, and send it in so there is no loss of rights or benefits.
  • Recover from the injury or illness and complete or attend any medical examinations or workers' compensation hearings as requested.

If either an employer or the workers' compensation insurer finds that an injury or illness was caused by a work-related accident or setting, benefits will be paid to the injured employee. However, if there is any controversy over a claim, an employee will not receive workers' compensation benefits until a hearing is held and a judge decides in the worker's favor. There are other options for payment or reimbursement during a benefit waiting period, such as receiving disability or wage supplement payments. There have been some reforms to New York workers' compensation laws in recent years, though, so it is important to understand the current options and changes. Seeking legal help to explore them may be the best route.

Focus on Recovery

For a recently injured worker in New York, it may be confusing and frustrating to have to jump through the hoops of the workers' compensation process while also dealing with the physical and emotional changes that occur during injury rehabilitation. However, it is important for injured employees to know that they are not alone and workers' compensation help does exist.

If you have experienced a work injury or want to appeal a denial of workers' compensation benefits, contact an experienced New York workers' compensation attorney to discuss your legal rights and options. With a lawyer's help, you can focus on your recovery while your case is in the capable hands of a legal professional, who will work to help you receive the workers' compensation benefits you deserve in a timely fashion.