Brooklyn Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
In almost all circumstances, if you are a worker in Brooklyn, your employer is required to provide you with workers’ compensation insurance benefits at no cost to you. This is true even if you are a part-time employee or a family member of the owner of the company.
Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical and costs associated with work-related injuries or illnesses and, if your injury or illness is serious enough, pays cash disability benefits while you recover from your injuries. Specifically, employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for any injury “arising out of and in the course of employment” or from a disease the employee contracted during the performance of his or her job responsibilities.
Work injuries are absolutely preventable, and yet they still happen when employers cut corners or fail to address hazards and unsafe working conditions. Injuries employees suffer on the job can range in severity from minor to permanent disability. Some require long-term absences from work; others may only cause an employee to miss hours or a day or two.
Depending on the severity, injured employees may receive cash disability benefits in addition to the payment of their medical costs. Families of fatally-injured employees or those who succumb to terminal illnesses can receive death benefits intended to cover funeral and burial costs as well as the loss of the income the deceased employee would have provided to the family.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, our Brooklyn personal injury attorneys have helped injured workers for over 40 years. Members of our team make their homes in Brooklyn, and our firm takes pride in helping people in our community receive the benefits they deserve when they sustain a work-related injury or illness. Reach out to us if you have been hurt on the job.
“Great experience with skilled legal individuals that know what they are doing.” -Nesha G.
The Workers’ Compensation Claims Process
The first thing you should do immediately after you have been injured on the job or become aware that you have contracted an illness at work is to report your injury or illness to your employer. If you require emergency care, it is of course acceptable to report your injury after you deal with the emergency.
If your injury is not an emergency, after your report, you should seek appropriate medical help. Your initial report doesn’t need to be in writing, but you do have to follow up in writing within 30 days of your injury. Your report should include the date, time, nature of your injury/illness, and where on the premises it occurred. A workers’ comp lawyer can help you write your report.
Filing Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
After you have notified your employer of your injury and sought medical care, file a claim with the New York Workers Compensation Board (“the Board”). You can file a claim online, visit your local Board office, or mail in a paper form. Follow the instructions for any of those options here.
Do not put off filing your claim. You are required to file a claim within two years of the date of your injury or from the date you realize or should have realized your injury or illness was caused at work or in the course of performing your work duties. If you fail to file within this two-year deadline, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company can deny your claim and you will not receive the compensation you deserve, so file as soon as you possibly can. In addition to complying with the law, filing as soon as you can will start the process and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve as quickly as possible.
After You File Your Claim
Reporting your injury to your employer starts the clock running on certain responsibilities your employer has with respect to your injury. Within ten days of receiving an employee’s injury report, the employer must report the injury to both the Board and its insurance company. It is always a good idea to follow up with your employer to make sure someone has actually reported your injury. If that hasn’t happened, you can file a complaint with the Board and your employer can be subject to significant financial penalties—$1,000 for each instance of noncompliance and a second penalty of up to $2,500 if the employer fails to comply.
The employer’s insurance company, upon receipt of the employer’s report of a work-related injury, is required to provide a written description to the employee of his or her rights under New York workers’ compensation law. The company has an obligation to send this statement to the employee within 14 days of its receipt of the report from the employer or with the first check it sends to the injured employee, whichever is earlier.
If the employee is eligible to receive cash benefits in addition to medical benefits, the employer’s insurance carrier must begin making these weekly payments within 18 days and inform the employee that payments will be made. The insurance company may deny the employee’s claim for a variety of reasons, some of which are legitimate and others which are not.
Whether it begins payments or to denies the claim, the company must notify the Board. After the initial payment, insurance companies are obligated to continue making cash benefit payments every two weeks. In addition, the insurance company, after 12 weeks post-accident, must evaluate the employee’s need for rehabilitation treatment.
Healthcare providers also have obligations under New York’s workers’ compensation laws. The initial treating physician must provide a report of the injured worker’s injuries to the District Office and then provide copies to the employee/its insurance provider and the employee. If the employee requires care beyond initial treatment, the physician must report on the worker’s progress every 45 days.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Each workers’ compensation claim is unique. Depending on the seriousness of the employee’s injury and degree of disability, New York law allows injured workers to receive a couple of different types of benefits.
All employees are entitled to payment of the costs of their medical care from the date of injury until they have recovered from it. You should always keep in mind that, except for emergency care required to immediately treat the injury, an insurance company or employer may dictate to injured workers both the specific health care provider as well as the medical facility an employee may use to receive care for his or her injuries or illness.
These restrictions apply not only to the care necessary to treat the initial injury, including diagnostic tests and surgeries, but also the pharmacies at which employees may have their prescriptions filled. If the insurance company contracts with one of the State Health Department’s Preferred Provider Organizations, or PPOs, it may require an employee to receive his or her initial non-emergency care from a PPO physician or facility.
After 30 days from the initial treatment, however, an employee may receive treatment by any authorized provider, even if the provider is not part of the PPO. To ensure that the PPOs have sufficient capacity to treat workers’ compensation patients, they are required to have two different providers in each specialty and to operate in at least two hospitals.
Cash Disability Payments
Insurance companies are required to pay cash disability payments on a weekly basis to employees whose illness or disability from an injury lasts more than seven days. The maximum benefit an injured worker is eligible may not exceed a state-established maximum which is adjusted on an annual basis. The amount of cash disability benefits an employee may receive is figured at 2/3 of the employee’s average weekly salary over the last year, multiplied the percentage of disability the injury has caused the injured worker.
When an injured worker can return to a job, but only to one that does not pay as much as the employee was making before the accident, the worker may be eligible to receive weekly cash benefits that make up 2/3 of the difference between the two wages.
Some injuries result in a worker’s permanent disability. The State’s Schedule Loss of Use (SLU) is used to determine an employee’s loss of earning power as a result of a permanent impairment of a body part due to a work-related injury. SLU awards are paid for a permanent injury to a worker’s hearing, foot, toes, leg, fingers, hand, eyesight, arms, or because of serious disfigurement to the face, neck, or scalp.
Employees are only eligible for an SLU award after they have reached their maximum medical improvement, their MMI. This means that he or she has 1) recovered from the injury to the greatest extent medically possible 2) the treating physician has submitted a medical report to the Board stating the employee has reached the MMI along with the employee’s percentage of disability and 3) the employee, due to his or her work injury, has a permanent loss of function in the injured body part.
The period of time for which an injured employee is eligible for weekly cash disability payments is set by statute and ranges from 15 weeks for the loss of a fourth finger, all the way up to 312 weeks for the total loss of an arm.
Some preventable work accidents result in the death of the employee. In these tragic cases, the injured worker’s family members are entitled to weekly death benefits under New York workers’ compensation law. Not all family members may file for death benefits. New York law limits these benefits to actual dependents, including the deceased employee’s spouse, children, and others who live in his or her household who were financially dependent on the employee.
Death benefits are paid weekly at the rate of 2/3 of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage for the year immediately before the employee’s death and are also subject to the state weekly maximum.
In addition to weekly death benefits, the family of a deceased employee may receive after the work-related death of a family member, his or her family can also receive up to $12,500 for funeral and burial expenses in metro New York counties.
How Our Brooklyn Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Can Help You
As you can see, navigating the New York workers’ compensation process can seem daunting. A worker faces off against both their employer as well as the employer’s insurance company. Disputes can arise between the employee and the treating physician over whether the employee has reached MMI or a certain percentage of permanent disability. Injured employees almost always benefit from having help and guidance in this process from a skilled, experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who knows the law and has handled similar cases in the past.
If your claim is denied by your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company, the law provides for an appeals process. If your case is not resolved in a manner that is satisfactory to both parties, the process can involve five different stages, including taking the case to New York state courts. Understanding the legal requirements, the law, and the workings of each stage in the process is critically important to achieving a just result in your case.
Contact the Brooklyn Workers’ Comp Lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP
Here at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we have demonstrated our commitment to helping our neighbors receive the maximum monetary benefit they’re entitled to under the law since we opened our offices. Over the years, we have established a proven track record of success for our clients.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we have another asset we can use when facing a particularly thorny or complicated Social Security disability or workers’ compensation case—a sister firm with more than half a century of focusing on helping injured workers like you. At https://www.foalaw.com/, you can see how we can benefit from that partnership, and how that might benefit you.
If you have suffered a work-related injury or if your loved one lost their life at work, reach out to us as soon as possible for your free case evaluation. When you call us any time at (877) 565-2993 you will never have to schedule your evaluation for a later time. We provide immediate case evaluations so that you know right away the best way to proceed in your case. We are also available online and via live chat, so get in touch today and start your case off on the right foot.