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Ask a Top Lawyer: Workers’ Comp

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Getting injured at work can be a stressful and even frightening experience. You may be in pain, worried about how you’ll pay for your medical bills, and about how you’ll return to work and earn a living while recovering. Even if you’re familiar with Workers’ Compensation as an idea, you’re likely inexperienced with the claims process. Allow us to dispel some myths and reassure you with the knowledge that your injury is likely covered – and that you have rights to compensation.

Gerarda Rella

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a New York state-mandated insurance program designed to assist employees who are hurt or sickened on the job. Anyone with a work-related injury or illness can receive workers’ comp benefits, regardless of who is at fault. An injured worker may receive a weekly cash benefit equal to two-thirds of their average weekly wage. Workers’ Comp benefits also cover any medical expenses stemming from their injury. Should a person become permanently disabled on the job, they may also be eligible for disability benefits.

Who is Eligible for Workers’ Comp in New York?

All employers in New York are required to possess Workers’ Compensation insurance for their employees. This includes for-profit businesses, government agencies,  and may include non-profit entities.

Not sure if you’re eligible? Employers are legally required to post their Workers’ Compensation insurance company details in the workplace. Look around your workplace for further information.

Are All Work-Related Injuries Covered by Workers’ Comp?

So long as your injuries or illness stem directly from your efforts on the job, they will be covered. For instance, if you’re a construction worker who has developed asthma after working on dusty job sites, treatments for your asthma can be covered. Nurses who develop back problems after moving patients are eligible for benefits, too. Even a heart attack can be covered by workers’ comp so long as you can prove that it was caused at least partially because of your job.

If you plan to file a claim, be sure to document every aspect of your injury or illness. You’ll want to keep track of doctor’s visits, prescription costs, and any ongoing treatment you might need. By staying organized, you’ll up the odds of your claim being approved.

These statements are generalities and the specifics of each claim may have differing results. Laws are not black and white and most claims fall in the gray areas, and thus results can not be predicted or guaranteed.

Will I Lose My Job if I File a Workers’ Comp Claim?

It’s illegal for employers to terminate injured workers in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. A claim can be filed by preparing and filing Workers’ Compensation Form C-3 within two years of the accident date or the onset of symptoms. You can drop off the form or mail it to any local office of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board. Be sure you keep a copy of the form for yourself and obtain proof of filing.

Just because something is illegal doesn’t mean some employers won’t try to fire employees who file a claim. If you believe you’ve been unfairly retaliated against because of your efforts to file for workers’ compensation, it’s important to speak with a New York Workers’ Compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Claim?

While it’s not always necessary to hire a lawyer to file your claim, doing so can be more beneficial than you might expect. The Workers’ Compensation system has become increasingly complex over the years, and an experienced attorney can help you navigate the paperwork you’ll need to complete throughout the claims process. Workers’ Compensation lawyers work on a contingency basis, so you will not pay a dime in fees unless they successfully obtain cash benefits on your behalf.

If you’re considering filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced New York employment lawyer about your options. Contact Rella & Associates, P.C., at (914) 333-0444.

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