When you go to work, you don’t expect to suffer an injury. What you do expect is to come home safe and healthy from work every day, unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
Workplace injuries aren’t limited to construction and other seemingly dangerous jobs. Workplace injuries happen in every profession. When you or a loved one suffers a workplace injury, you deserve to have a workers’ compensation lawyer looking out for your best interests. The last thing you need is to end up forking over money to pay for medical expenses for injuries that you did not cause.
If you have suffered a workplace accident, you’re likely eligible to receive workers’ compensation insurance benefits. We can help you understand your rights and help you gather all the necessary documentation and complete all the required forms for your claim to proceed. While these benefits are legally available to you, the insurance companies don’t always make it easy for you to receive these benefits, which is why it’s important to seek the guidance and advice of a workers’ compensation lawyer or construction accident lawyer whom you trust.
Studies show that worker training helps to prevent workplace injuries. When companies do not take this easy step, they put their employees at risk of grave injury. Furthermore, workplace injuries happen everywhere—from nurses to truck drivers and from construction to office workers; no industry is immune from potential workplace accidents and injuries.
When you are the victim of a workplace injury, you face physical pain and potentially a long road to recovery. You may also face a workers’ compensation insurance company that’s likely looking to make the process more difficult for you. The right workers’ compensation lawyer can help you navigate this complex process to make sure you get the benefits to which you are entitled.
Some of the most common accidents that result in workplace injuries include:
- Healthcare accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Violent attacks
- Heavy lifting
- Falls from a ladder or scaffolding
- Crane accidents
- Falling objects
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Defective equipment
- Auto accidents
- Repetitive motion
Even if you contributed to your accident, New York’s workers’ compensation insurance will cover you, with few exceptions. Generally, if you are hurt on the job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The best way to ensure that you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled is to work with a trusted workers’ compensation attorney.
Over 139,000 workplace injuries were reported in New York in 2016. If you think you are immune from workplace injuries because you don’t work somewhere with heavy machinery or in a typically dangerous profession, you are wrong. Workplace injuries happen everywhere.
The most common injuries include:
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Joint pain
- Knee injuries
- Vision loss
- Mental strain / brain injury
- Hearing loss
- Catastrophic injuries
Some of these injuries may be minor and others more severe, leaving you out of work temporarily or perhaps permanently, depending on the severity of your injuries. Regardless, even minor injuries can cause financial loss, which is exactly what workers’ compensation benefits are supposed to cover.
When Workers’ Compensation Applies
New York law requires employers to carry workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. State law requires this coverage to ensure that any employee who is the victim of an on-the-job injury has benefits to cover his or her losses.
To file a workers’ compensation claim, the injury you suffered must have happened:
- While at your job
- If not at your job, while performing job-related duties
- Because of work-related duties
- As a result of chemical exposure during work-related duties
Negligence is not a determinative factor for whether you receive workers’ compensation benefits. Only the aforementioned factors are considered. Negligence, however, comes into play if you can file a third-party personal injury claim against another person or business that contributed to your injury, such as a manufacturer of faulty equipment or a different company working on the same site. This can help you recover additional compensation beyond what workers’ compensation offers you.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
When you suffer an injury on the job, you are likely concerned about how you will pay your bills. That’s what workers’ compensation insurance is designed to help with. While these benefits are not nearly as extensive as the compensation you could receive under a personal injury claim, they help nonetheless.
Your workers’ compensation benefits may include:
- Lost wages
- Total and partial disability
- Medical bills
- Wrongful death
After your workplace injury, you only have 30 days to notify your employer, in writing, of the accident. What’s more, you only have 48 hours after your accident to see a doctor for an evaluation. Not only is it important for your physical wellbeing that you see a medical professional quickly following your accident, but your workers’ compensation claim may require it.
Five Steps to Take After Your Accident
The New York workers’ compensation claims process can be extremely complicated. You need someone by your side who can help guide you through the process, so you can focus on your physical and emotional well-being.
The claims process requires strict adherence to timelines and documentation. Your claim may be denied if you miss a deadline or fail to provide certain documentation. You can prevent that from happening by working closely with your trusted workers’ compensation attorney.
Following your workplace accident, take the following steps:
- See a doctor. When you are injured at work, seek medical attention immediately. Even if you do not notice any physical or outward injuries, you should still receive a medical evaluation to ensure that you are healthy. You may have internal injuries that require immediate and careful care. Seeing a doctor is also important for your workers’ compensation claim because, under New York law, your doctor must complete a preliminary report of your condition within 48 hours of your accident. In addition, your employer or its workers’ comp carrier may require that you see a doctor it assigns you.
- Notify your employer. Your first step after any accident is to make sure that you are physically alright. Next, you need to notify your employer in writing about the accident. This is an important part of the process that many individuals overlook. Failing to inform your employer of your accident may result in a denial of your claim.
- File a claim. In New York, individuals who have sustained injuries while at work generally have two years after the date of their accidents to file a formal workers’ compensation claim with the New York Workers’ Compensation Board.
- Statement of rights. Two weeks after you have filed your claim, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider must provide you with a statement of rights.
- Approval or denial. Within 18 days after filing a workers’ compensation claim, New York law requires the insurance company to pay out the injured individual’s benefits. If the company fails to do so because it is disputing or denying the claim, the company must provide the employee and the New York State Board of Workers’ Compensation documentation explaining the denial.
How Retaining an Attorney Can Help
The workers’ compensation claims process is complex and requires keen attention to detail. When claimants miss deadlines or fail to provide adequate documentation, they risk denial of their claims. This could leave injured individuals without the cushion of benefits to which they are entitled.
The best way to avoid this situation is to work with a skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Choosing the right lawyer for you means working with someone with whom you are comfortable and trust to handle your claim.
At a minimum, your attorney should help you with:
- Getting the necessary medical treatment
- Notifying your employer in writing about the accident
- Filing your workers’ compensation claim with the New York Workers’ Compensation Board
- Getting your doctor’s initial report of your injuries
- Handling any appeals if the insurance company denies your claim
That last point is an important one; many workers’ compensation insurance companies take every opportunity to deny your claim. Even the smallest mistake could result in an outright denial. Having the right attorney by your side can help you avoid a denial and be better prepared to overcome one if your claim is denied.
Appealing a Workers’ Compensation Denial
Receiving a denial of your workers’ compensation claim is like adding insult to injury. It’s frustrating. However, don’t give up, because you deserve access to your workers’ compensation benefits. Working with a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand why your claim was denied and what to do next.
The insurance company may have denied your claim for the following reasons:
- It doesn’t believe that you were actually injured at work.
- You haven’t provided enough medical documentation to support your injury claim.
- You never received medical treatment.
- Your injury does not qualify for compensation.
- Your employer is disputing your claim.
- You failed to report your injury to your employer.
- You did not promptly file your workers’ compensation claim.
Do not give up if you receive a denial from the workers’ compensation insurance company. If you did not have a lawyer before, now is definitely the time to retain one. Here is what an attorney can do for you:
- Determine why your claim was denied
- File an appeal on your behalf
- Ensure that you have the proper documentation ready for your appeal hearing
- Advocate for your workers’ compensation benefit rights
By retaining an attorney, you can give yourself the peace of mind you need to focus on your physical and mental recovery. Don’t wait when you get a denial letter. The insurance company will not pay your benefits, the benefits to which you may actually be entitled. Your workers’ comp lawyer can deal with the legal complexities of your claim while you focus on getting back on your feet.
Once it’s determined that you will receive your workers’ compensation benefits, the compensation amount must be determined. This amount depends on several factors, including your lost income and the severity of your injuries. New York makes this determination based on the total or partial disability:
- Temporary total disability: This is when you can never do your job again due to your injuries, but you will return to work, in some capacity, at a later date.
- Permanent total disability: This results from a workplace injury so severe that you will never work again.
- Temporary partial disability: This means you will not be out of work forever, although you may work reduced hours during your recovery, and you will return to work full time again in the future.
- Permanent partial disability: This means you will continue working, but in a reduced capacity, but can never work again in your previous capacity.
In New York, how your disability is classified determines the weekly cash benefits that you ultimately receive. This is why it’s so important to have a trusted advocate standing by your side, working hard to ensure you maximize your benefits.
Your medical bills are another matter. Under New York law, you will receive medical benefits to cover your medical needs that result from your workplace accident. This is the case regardless of how temporary, permanent, or partial your disability is due to the accident.
Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help You?
Yes. In a workers’ compensation claim, you will need to meet many deadlines and file specific forms. Don’t try to take on these tasks yourself, and don’t trust this work to just any personal injury lawyer. You need a lawyer who not only has your best interests at heart. You also need an attorney who understands how workers’ comp works in your state.
Beyond that, you need a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable and a lawyer who has the experience you need to give you the best chance of making a full and complete recovery from your injuries.
You shouldn’t feel concerned with or responsible for your lost wages and medical expenses resulting from your workplace injury. You deserve a lawyer with the experience and the resources necessary to help you maximize your recovery and make your workers’ compensation claims process as quickly as possible. The last thing you want is to be dragged down by unnecessary and time-consuming legal work. You need to focus on your physical recovery and let your attorney focus on your workers’ compensation claim.