The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 2.7 million nonfatal workplace accidents in 2020, slightly less than the previous year. Additionally, more than 1 million of those injuries resulted in time away from work. These statistics represent an extraordinary number of individuals who suffered injuries while working, many of whom were forced to take time away from their jobs to recover.
You will undoubtedly hear conflicting information when you are injured in a workplace accident. For example, your employer, or any other individuals who may bear responsibility, may try to steer you away from reporting the accident while workplace policies call for mandatory reporting.
The workplace injury attorneys at Cellino Law can help you navigate the process of reporting an accident, arranging the medical treatment you need, and getting the compensation you deserve. Throughout the process, we will help you understand your rights as the victim of a workplace accident and ensure those rights are preserved.
Your Rights After a Workplace Accident
Employees in New York have certain rights after a workplace accident or injury. Many of these stem from the responsibilities of an employer, namely that all employers in the state must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Knowing your rights can help you get the benefits you are entitled to if you are injured and unable to perform your regular job duties. While the following list is not exhaustive, it will give you a good idea of some of your most basic rights after an accident and injury at work.
The Right To Seek Medical Care
You have a right to seek medical care after an accident. New York workers’ compensation laws require you to use providers assigned by your employer or its insurance provider. This may limit what provider you can visit. However, if you are not receiving adequate care, you may be able to see another doctor.
The Right To File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
You have the right to file a worker’s compensation claim with your employer. This is usually processed through a third-party insurance provider. In addition to filing a claim, you have several other workers’ comp-related rights, including the right to the maximum benefits available for your injury and a workers’ compensation hearing where applicable.
The Right To Retain Your Job and Return to It Upon Medical Release
New York workers’ compensation laws do not require your employer to keep your job open for you. However, many work-related injuries or illnesses are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act. If this applies to you, then your employer must hold an opening for you. Additionally, while FMLA leave is unpaid, it may be combined with workers’ compensation benefits in some situations.
In most cases, if your doctor has released you from care and approved your return to work, your employer cannot deny your return. However, this rule has certain exceptions, such as if your employer is not required to hold your position open. Working with a workplace injury attorney can help you understand where you stand concerning returning to work.
There is some overlap between disability accommodations and those that may be recommended after a workplace accident. For example, your employer does not have to offer a modified role if you are approved to return to light-duty work. However, if your injury resulted in a permanent disability, you may be able to request accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The Right To Be Treated Without Discrimination or Retaliation
You should not have to face discrimination, harassment, or retaliation related to filing a workers’ compensation claim. This is your right afforded under New York State and federal laws. Unfortunately, many workers report behavior that could fall into one of these categories. Some examples include:
- Pressure from an employer to not file a claim
- Threats to your job security
- Threats of retaliation against you in your industry
- Denying a promotion
- Reduction of wages
The Right To Obtain Legal Representation
Companies and insurance carriers have attorneys working on their side, and it is only fair for you to have the same opportunity. That is why workplace law includes your right to legal representation, including after an on-the-job accident or injury.
Hiring legal counsel as soon as possible after you are hurt can help protect you from discrimination and retaliation. Attorneys work to ensure you are getting the benefits and compensation you are entitled to. They also handle most communication with insurers, which minimizes confusion and lets you focus on your recovery.
The Right To File An Appeal
You can appeal the decision when a workers’ compensation claim is denied. This is done through a hearing. Therefore, it is essential to have proper representation when you attend this hearing. Our attorneys can help you prepare for a workers’ comp appeal and hearing and make your legal case for benefit entitlement.
Keep in mind that employers also have rights, including appealing the workers’ compensation decision. They may exercise this right in certain situations, such as you having multiple injuries on the job or failing a post-accident drug test.
Your Rights Against Third Parties
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation laws only apply to employees. This excludes certain workers, such as subcontractors or gig workers. However, just because you are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits does not mean you are without rights.
You may need to pursue compensation for a non-employee injury through the legal system. Determining who is at fault for the accident and the extent of your injuries will be especially important in this situation. It is usually advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney for advice that is relevant to your case.
How To Protect Your Rights After an Accident at Work
Knowing and understanding your rights after an at-work accident is the first step toward preserving them. There are other steps you can take to help. Hiring a knowledgeable and experienced injury attorney is one of the most important.
The attorneys at Cellino Law will help you navigate the sometimes complex process of obtaining compensation after a workplace accident. In addition, we will work as intermediaries between you and other involved parties so that you can focus on getting better and back to work.
Having the proper documentation can be crucial in preserving your rights. For that reason, it is critical that you document any interactions and communications with your employer, human resources, and insurance providers. You should also keep copies of all relevant reports and medical or treatment records.
Avoid Situations That May Limit Your Rights
Certain situations can affect how you are able to exercise your rights after a workplace injury. For example, drinking or using drugs at work may make you ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Not following safety procedures, cutting corners, and failing to wear all required PPE can have the same effect.
For these reasons, it is imperative that you always follow official procedures at work. That includes:
- Wearing PPE as required for each task
- Abstaining from alcohol and drugs while at work
- Maintaining equipment in satisfactory condition and reporting any broken equipment
Workplace Accidents in New York
Cellino Law operates throughout New York, providing professional legal services to individuals hurt in workplace accidents. People like yourself. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, we can review your case and provide professional guidance on your next steps, including helping you get the maximum amount of compensation possible in your situation. Contact Cellino Law at (800) 555-5555 to find your local office.