It is an unfortunate truth that in some occupations accidents, injuries and illnesses are part of the job. However, nearly every job carries some risk of being injured. When a person is injured on the job, it can cause a major disruption to his or her life. The lucky ones only have to take a few days’ leave to recover from their injuries. However, those less fortunate can be left with expensive medical bills and long-term disabilities.
Under New York law, there is a system in place to compensate workers who have been injured while on the job called workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation works by allowing injured workers to recover benefits, regardless of fault with regard to the injury. In return for the no-fault payments, workers cannot sue their employers for negligence.
Workers’ compensation pays benefits for work accidents or injuries while on the job. In addition, it also covers occupational diseases. This is a medical condition caused by a job over a period of time. A common example is mesothelioma that is caused by workers’ exposure to asbestos over a long-term period.
Qualification for benefits
In order to qualify for benefits, the worker must show that he or she developed an injury, illness or disability arising out of the course of his or her employment. In other words, the worker must be on the job when the injury, illness or disability occurred. In addition, the injury, illness or disability must have a causal relationship (i.e. caused the employee’s injury) to the employee’s job.
Employees must give their employers timely notice of their injury before benefits may be collected. The workers’ compensation law requires the injured worker to give his or her employer a written report of the accident no more than 30 days following the accident. However, in some cases, this requirement may be excused if it can be proven that the employer already knew of the accident within the 30-day-period.
What benefits are available?
All reasonable medical expenses related to the accident are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. However, the injured employee must receive treatment from physicians (or chiropractors) that are approved by the Workers’ Compensation Board to treat compensation patients.
While the employee is out of work, he or she is entitled to collect up to two-thirds of their weekly wage up to a statutory maximum. The amount is dependent on several factors including the degree of disability and the average weekly wage of the employee.
If as a result of the injury, the employee is forced to take a lower-paying job, he or she may be entitled to benefits to help make up the difference.
Consult an attorney
When applying for benefits, it is not uncommon for the claim to be denied or benefits to be prematurely terminated. It is therefore wise to work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney throughout the process. An attorney can ensure that you receive fair treatment and that you receive the benefits that you are legally entitled to.