If you or someone you love has been injured on the job or currently suffers from a job-related illness, chances are you are worrying about what to do next. Please, don’t despair — most people don’t know either. Moreover, it’s difficult to know who to trust. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion. But whose advice is the right advice? And how can you tell?
You may have questions such as, “Can I see my own doctor? How do I file for workers’ compensation benefits? Will my wages be paid while I’m out of work due to my injuries? What if my employer disputes my claim? My employer is telling me not to file a claim — What should I do next? I don’t think my injuries are that serious — Should I still file a claim? Are there any time limits to apply for workers’ compensation benefits? Can my employer fire me if I file a claim? What happens if someone other than my employer caused the accident? Do I need a lawyer?”
If any of these questions sound familiar, take a deep breath and read on. The answers to these questions and more, which we have included below, will reduce your anxiety and give you comfort in what to do next.
10 Steps to Understanding NYC Workers’ Comp
1. What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation (“workers’ comp” for short) ensures that employees who are injured in the course of their employment receive the medical care they require, as well as the payment of medical expenses and lost-wage benefits while out of work.
2. Am I eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits?
Almost all employers in New York are required to provide workers’ compensation to their employees — documented and undocumented, on-the-books and off-the-books alike. However, some employers may try to avoid paying their share by claiming a 1099 employee is a sub-contractor. You should never assume that this is the case. To protect your rights, speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer today. You can do this by calling Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 516-342-2200 or visiting us online at FightingForYou.com.
3. How and when should I file?
Employers in New York are required by law to provide a noticeable and easily accessible workers’ comp bulletin in the workplace. Contact information for the workers’ compensation insurance carrier should be available on the post, as well as a list of the employee rights.
If you are injured on the job, you must notify your employer of your injury within 30 days of its occurrence, though we recommend you do so immediately so there is no question that your injuries are work-related and no issue of notice. Note: Even if you do not believe your injuries are serious, please protect yourself by reporting the incident within the 30-day deadline. Why? Because over time seemingly minor injuries can become severe and debilitating, and even life-threatening.
Additionally, if you belong to a union and are injured, you should immediately notify your union representative. In the event your claim is due to an occupational illness or occupational wear-and-tear, please notify your employer as soon as your doctor deems that your injury is likely work-related or as soon as you realize your injuries might be related to your work activities.
Together with these notifications, a C-3 Employee’s Claim Form must be filed with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board to initiate your claim. We recommend you do so immediately to ensure your rights are protected. Note: The above-mentioned form is available for download at www.wcb.ny.gov.
To learn more on this subject and others, please visit us online or speak with a Schwartzapfel Lawyers representative today. It would be our privilege to assess your claim so that you may focus on your recovery.
4. What if my injury didn’t occur at my job site?
Injuries do not have to occur at your employer’s location for you to be covered by workers’ compensation. However, the employee does need to be working on behalf of the employer, or in the course of employment, when the injury occurs.
5. Does it matter who is at fault?
No. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that even if your actions led to the accident, you are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
6. Can I sue my employer for my injuries?
In most cases, New York State prohibits employees who were injured on the job from suing their employers. Accordingly, unless someone or some entity other than your employer caused your injuries, workers’ compensation is the only remedy to recover for your injuries and damages. Therefore, it is critical when choosing a lawyer to choose someone who will fight for you every step of the way.
7. Will my employer be angry?
Most employers understand that accidents happen, and this is why they carry workers’ compensation insurance. Still, many employers will try to prevent you from rightfully filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. If this occurs, call us immediately (516-342-2200) as it is against the law to retaliate against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
8. How much will I receive?
The standard weekly benefit payment is equal to two-thirds (2/3) of your average weekly wage; however, these benefits are tax-free. As well, this amount is subject to change depending upon the determination of your ongoing disability level and factors such as average weekly wage.
9. When should I hire an attorney?
If your injury is relatively minor and you return to work quickly without any permanent, total, or partial loss-of-use or disability, you may not need an attorney. If, however, there are disputes about your employment status, whether or not the injury is truly work-related, your ability to return to work and at what level, your weekly benefit rate, authorization for medical treatment, and if you are permanently disabled (either partially or totally) or have suffered a permanent, partial, or minor loss of use of a body part, hiring an attorney can make all the difference when getting you the money and medical benefits you deserve.
Of note: As the workers’ compensation system is designed to process standard claims as quickly and cheaply as possible, if you believe your case is not standard — or that the system is not working for you — you should take advantage of a free consultation with an attorney to learn your rights. To do this, call 516-342-2200 and speak with a Schwartzapfel Lawyers representative today. It would be our honor and privilege to help with your physical and financial recovery.
10. What about insurance adjusters?
If you are not represented by an attorney, an aggressive claims adjuster may try to trick or bully you into providing a recorded statement or signing an authorization form allowing the insurance company broad access to your medical records. To prevent this from happening, you should politely but firmly tell them to speak with your attorney.
Please note: The insurance carrier for the person or entity who caused your injuries has the money, time, and resources to contest your claim. Having an experienced attorney on your side will help level the playing field, as it signals to the insurance company that you are serious about obtaining a fair settlement for your injuries. In fact, studies show that injured workers with legal representation typically receive 3.5 times more compensation than those without counsel.
In sum: While insurance adjusters may act friendly, they are not your friends. They want what’s best for the insurance company, not you. Don’t be fooled. You do not have to say or sign anything and should never do so without first consulting a lawyer.
If you are injured and unable to work, please know that the law is on your side. However, as the clock is ticking, waiting to speak to a lawyer is good for your employer and bad for you. Protect yourself and your family by having a well-qualified workers’ compensation lawyer fight for you.
You deserve every cent and every benefit you are entitled to. At Schwartzapfel Lawyers, it is our mission to ensure that this happens. Do not gamble with your financial future. Be proactive, act now. For a free consultation, call 516-342-2200 or visit us online today at FightingForYou.com.