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In Six Cases, New York Court Finds in Favor of Injured Workers

The New York Court of Appeals recently issued six rulings in the same day, answering an important question for many injured New York workers. The court found that private insurers must pay money into trust funds in certain workers' compensation cases.

The controversy surrounded the application of the New York Workers' Compensation Reform Bill, which became law in 2007. Injured workers filed six separate cases concerning how the law should affect them.

The New York Court of Appeals' Work Comp Ruling

The worker in the main case had been injured before the new law came into effect, but his workers' compensation settlement was finalized after the law was in place. The question before the appeals court was whether the law requires private workers' compensation insurers to follow the trust-fund aspects of the law in this situation.

The private insurers argued that the law should not apply because the injury occurred before the law was enacted. They also argued that, if the case were found in favor of the workers, the insurers would be at a disadvantage against self-insured entities and state insurance funds. Although the insurers based their arguments on numerous clauses of the Constitution, the court did not agree.

Essentially, the court ruled that the key was not when the workers were injured; rather, the important date was when the workers reached settlements with the insurers.

The court also ruled that the cap on the length of time an injured worker can collect workers' compensation is relevant for those with permanent partial disability, but it only applies to those injured after the law was passed.

The Reasoning Behind the New York Workers' Compensation Law

The purpose of the New York Workers' Compensation Reform Bill is to protect New York injured workers who have permanent partial disabilities against the possible insolvency of insurers. If insurers place money into a trust fund for the injured worker and subsequently go out of business, the worker's interests are still protected.

These rulings can be viewed as a positive step for the rights of New York workers who have been injured on the job.

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