Since 1917, most workers in New York State have been covered by workers compensation insurance. If you get hurt at work, you have the right to file a claim for insurance benefits with the help of a New York work injury lawyer.
And while that might sound simple enough, in reality, it's far more complicated.
Workers Compensation is a "no-fault" system, similar to many auto insurance policies in New York. If your claim is approved, that decision does not take responsibility into account. The Workers' Comp Board doesn't care if your employer caused the accident, if another worker contributed to your injury, or if it was your fault in the first place.
Instead, it determines that:
You have to tell your boss about the accident as soon as possible. New York State's Workers Compensation Law gives employees thirty (30) days after the date of an accident to provide an employer with written notice.
The Workers Comp Board will not consider your claim unless you have a medical report that attributes your injury, illness or disease to a workplace accident or environmental conditions within the workplace. So the first step is to see a doctor, describe your accident and symptoms, and get checked out.
Some employers have signed on to a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) program. Essentially, your boss will have an approved doctor, and you have to see them. If this is true in your own case, your boss has to provide you written notice explaining the PPO program. If not, see your own doctor.
After notifying your employer, and receiving a medical report that explicitly links your injury to a workplace accident, you can file a claim for workers comp. Find the form, Employee Claim (C-3), here.
Now it's up to New York State's Workers Compensation Board to review your application and either approve or deny benefits. According to the US Department of Labor, the majority of claims are denied. While a denial can be appealed, that process generally requires an attorney.
Workers comp fails to account for many of the most acute hardships of a workplace accident.
While workers comp restricts you from suing an employer, it does not prohibit you from suing other people on the jobsite. If the negligence of a property owner, architect, engineer, contractor or sub-contractor contributed to your accident, you may be able to hold them accountable in a personal injury lawsuit.
To discuss your case with an experienced injury attorney, call us at (917) 551-6690 or fill out our contact form. You'll speak with a lawyer for free within 24 hours.
New York is also home to some of the nation's most progressive labor laws, especially when it comes to construction. In fact, certain accidents, like those involving ladders and scaffolding, require the State to hold your employer accountable. To learn more about New York's "Ladder Law" and how it protects workers everyday, check out our infographic.
Before 1917, injured employees were forced to sue their employers for negligence, or pay for an injury out-of-pocket. There was no other way.
But during the early 20th century, inspired by Germany's example, a select group of states began considering a bargain: in exchange for guaranteed insurance coverage, employees would sacrifice their right to sue.
Maryland passed their first state-wide workers comp law in 1902, and others quickly followed. But in most places, insurance for workers was still voluntary; the State could not force an employer to purchase coverage. Opponents of the law considered it a violation of the Constitution's 14th Amendment.
The Amendment's "due process" clause requires the determination of a lawful judgment before personal property can be redistributed. In essence, no one, including a governmental agency, can take what you have until your right to a trial has been appropriately exhausted. Notably, the Amendment's "due process" clause was proposed by delegates from New York in 1788; no other state had thought about it.
Employers argued that, because they were paying for the insurance, all of that money was still their personal property. So if benefits were paid out without a determination of negligence, or the violation of a law, their right to "due process" was not being respected. Employees, on the other hand, said that the Law would restrict their own Constitutional right to "due process," by prohibiting them from filing lawsuits.
In a sense, the discussion began and ended in New York. Just as New York had introduced the very due process clause that was giving workers comp trouble, the law's Constitutionality was decided in a Supreme Court case between the New York Central Railway Co. and an injured worker.
The Court found that New York's Workers' Compensation Law did not violate anyone's rights. Why?
So the matter was decided, and in the very same year, New York State's Workers Compensation program was made mandatory for most employers. Oddly enough, this program did not cover railroad workers, like the man instrumental to the Supreme Court's decision. Instead, Congress enacted the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) in 1908, which specifically allowed railroad workers to sue their employers for negligence.
See our next work injury lawsuit: https://banvillelaw.com/family-of-farmworker-compensated/