Millions of people are hurt at work each year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2020. Additionally, the CDC reports more than 1.1 million nonfatal work injuries that resulted in time away from work. Many of those injuries were likely covered under worker compensation laws.
Getting injured at work can be a devastating experience. In addition to the physical pain of your injury, you may also experience lost wages, medical bills, and the added travel expenses to receive medical care. Sadly, many employers fail to share information about what coverage is available.
There are several systems in place to help you after a workplace injury in New York. If you are covered through the workers’ compensation system, your employer has insurance designed to pay for medical expenses and replace lost income. Keep reading to learn more about accessing this coverage after suffering a workplace injury.
Report the Accident or Injury
If you were injured during legitimate work activities, you should follow the established procedure for reporting it to your employer. Every workplace has its own steps for injury or accident reporting, but they usually include the following:
- Filling out an accident report if one occurred
- Reporting an injury to Human Resources as soon as it occurs
- Providing any requested medical information to support your injury claim
This should be done even if you don’t plan to file a workers’ compensation claim right now. It establishes that an injury initially occurred at work so that you have documented proof of the original injury if it gets worse or your recovery takes longer than predicted.
Request Copies of All Paperwork
Ask for copies of all paperwork you submit to your employer or insurance provider. If you are filling them out on paper, you can copy them yourself, note the day and time they are submitted and to who you handed them off. You can even take a picture with your phone to create a digital record. If you are filling out electronic forms, be sure to print out each submission confirmation or request a completed copy of each one.
Determine if the Injury Is Work Related
There can be some confusion over whether an injury is work-related. For example, many people believe you must be hurt while on company property, but that isn’t always the case. Similarly, it may also be covered if you are on company property but not actively working when the injury occurs, such as during a lunch break. The most effective way to find out if your injury is work-related is to speak with someone looking out for your best interests.
Were You Injured During Covered Activity?
Some injuries are work-related. If you develop carpel tunnel syndrome from typing or are hurt while operating heavy equipment, the connection is pretty clear. However, not all work-related injuries are so clear-cut.
For example, you do not have to be at your workplace to suffer a work-related injury. So, if you are hurt while traveling for business or at an after-hours company function, the injury is likely covered under workers’ compensation laws.
Remote workers are also covered — as long as the injury occurs during work-related activities. So, if you are hurt while working from a home office, you should report the injury.
Was There Misconduct Before or During the Injury?
Even if it is determined that you were hurt during a work-related task, certain types of misconduct on your part can interfere with a worker’s compensation claim. A few examples of acts that might put your claim in jeopardy include if the accident happened while:
- You were not following established safety procedures
- You did not use the required or supplied safety equipment
- You were under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
- You were in the act of committing a crime
Keep in mind that while these situations complicate the process, they do not eliminate your options. A thorough case review by one of our attorneys can help determine if you should pursue compensation for an injury that occurred under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Seek Medical Care
You should seek emergency care if the injury demands it. It is not usually advisable to postpone care because you are waiting for approval from your employer.
Once your workers’ comp claim is filed with your employer’s insurance provider, they will direct you to the appropriate doctors for follow-up care. This will often be someone other than your primary care doctor or current specialists. However, you may need to provide the new doctor with previous medical records during treatment.
Learn Your Rights
You have certain rights after a workplace injury. Your employer or insurance provider may attempt to get you to sign a rights waiver, and while we cannot advise on any specific case without speaking with you first, we strongly discourage signing this form. It may limit your options as your case moves forward.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate the process of filing a claim and appealing a decision if needed. We know the ins and outs of the process and can help ensure you get the maximum benefits to which you are entitled.
Your location will determine the specifics of what you can and cannot do, but for the most part, workers can expect the following rights.
Right To File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
In general, an employee who is hurt while performing their job duties has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. There are some exceptions to who must maintain this coverage, so not everyone will qualify. For example, some domestic, agricultural, or seasonal workers may not be covered by workers’ comp insurance. However, in most other situations, you have the right to file a claim with your employer for workers’ compensation benefits.
You also have the right to file this claim without fear of retaliation or coercion to make false statements. Additionally, you have the right to appeal that decision if your claim is denied.
Right To Seek Appropriate Medical Care
In New York, you must use an insurance-approved medical provider for workplace injuries covered by workers’ compensation. However, there may be exceptions if the care you are receiving is not appropriate or adequate for treatment. When our attorneys perform a case review on your injury, we can help you determine if your rights to proper medical care are being violated.
Contact a Workplace Injury Attorney
Once you have received any necessary care, it’s time to contact an experienced workplace injury attorney who can help you maximize available benefits. At Cellino Law, our attorneys will review your workers’ comp claim and, based on the results of that review, offer suggestions for the best next steps. Remember, your employer and its insurers have a vested interest in keeping costs at a minimum, so this is a critical step even if your claim is approved.
The attorneys at Cellino Law will be there when you need someone to stand by your side throughout New York’s often complicated workers’ compensation process. Our attorneys are among the most successful in the nation, and we will work tirelessly to get you the benefits and compensation you deserve. We serve clients across the state. Contact us at (800) 555-5555 to find your local office and schedule your case review.