The 10 most important steps to take to protect yourself when you have a work injury under Workers Comp Law in New York.

Cervical SpineHave you had an injury at work in New York? If you’re reading this, and you believe that you are entitled to Workers’ Comp, then this list is intended to give you some instruction on how to proceed with your claim. If you have a high risk job, then these are good things to keep in mind in the event you or a friend has an injury at work.

  1. Seek medical attention. If your injury is serious enough, don’t worry about the telling your boss, they will know. Your health is the most important thing you have. For instance, if you think you’re having a HEART ATTACK – CALL 911! Trust me, your life is worth more than the $50,000 potential death benefit your family will receive if your job causes your death.  If you can communicate that the injury happened at work, then be as detailed as possible when the pain started.
  2. Notify your employer. If your injury is not threatening life or limb, then take a moment before you go to your doctor to NOTIFY YOUR SUPERVISOR of the injury and how it happened. If you tell your supervisor make sure you note who you notified and when you notified them. [1]
  3. Keep written records. Follow up with written notice and keep a copy. Just to be safe in the event your employer does not take the necessary steps to ensure that the Workers’ Comp carrier is covering your injury. If your employer does not turn in the paperwork to the Workers’ Compensation Carrier, then this will be your proof that you timely gave notice.
  4. Report your injury to your healthcare provider. Follow up with your primary doctor and request a referral for the best physician for your injury type. As a general rule, any time you are seeing a doctor for your injury you should remind them that you are seeing them for a workers compensation case. If this is the first time that you are reporting an injury, then your physician can file a C-4 form to report the injury and get your case started. Ask to see your medical reports to make sure that your injury and causation is described. If the description is not accurate or is missing information, ask you provider to correct it. If the injury is an occupational disease, then your doctor’s report will likely be the first report of the injury.
  5. Seek the advice of a workers comp attorney. In New York, Workers’ Compensation attorney fees are set by the Workers Compensation Law Judge. Attorneys generally make less than 15% of money moving to the claimant. When compared to the 33% fee for personal injury matters, this is very reasonable. You do not pay your lawyer directly out of your pocket. In the event you claim is disputed, it is far better to have an attorney who is experienced handling your case than proceeding pro se. Even when your claim has been accepted, the carrier can make mistakes in the calculation of your average weekly wage, time calculations and degree of disabilities. Oftentimes, the lawyers provide enough added value to more than make up for the lost income.
  6. File your claim with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. The statute of limitations for filing a New York Workers’ Compensation Claim is 2 years. If you don’t receive compensation forms from the carrier indicating that your claim is accepted, then you may be in for a fight. If you believe that you are anywhere near the statute of limitations, you should file a C-3 form to report the injury to the Workers’ Comp Board.
  7. Keep a calendar/diary. Buy a small calendar book and keep your Workers Comp appointments in one place. You can write the date of your injury, the time you gave notice, court dates, doctor appointments and physical therapy times in one spot so that you can reference it in the future if necessary. * Remember you are entitled to reimbursement for your mileage, so by keeping the diary, it will give you another place to keep the information. The form for reimbursement is C-257.
  8. Maintain evidence of disability. Make sure you have medical evidence of your disability every 90 days. Your treating doc should know this and schedule you accordingly. If you don’t have evidence of disability, the carrier can cut your payments off. Do not give them an excuse to stop your payments by keeping your doctor’s appointments at least every 90 days.
  9. Look for work. If you have a partial disability, you have a duty to look for work within your restrictions. This doesn’t mean obtaining employment, but you must make an effort to look for
    work. Your employer may not have work within your restrictions, so you may have to look for work outside of your employer. You also have to keep track of your efforts.  C-258 is the form you have to provide. VESID is a great resource to help you find a job. You also may want to be careful around the house that you are not doing personal work outside of your restrictions because the carrier could have surveillance placed on you to attempt to prove that you are committing fraud. I don’t believe that you are necessarily committing fraud by overexerting yourself, but you may be playing a dangerous game.
  10. You may be entitled to a lump sum payment. You may be entitled to a monetary award once you reach maximum medical improvement for some injuries. This does not usually occur until one year after your injury or surgery, but this is something to keep in mind and to discuss with your physician and lawyer.

Attorney Dave Snyder maintains his practice in Syracuse, New York where he concentrates his practice in personal injury including New York Workers’ Compensation Law. If you have questions about a work related injury, please feel free to call Dave Snyder at 315-451-3040 or visit him at his website at Copyright 2013.

[1] Workers Compensation Law Section 18. The failure to notify your employer timely has been confirmed by the Appellate Division 3rd Department to be prejudicial.


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Filed under Legal, New York Law, Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation

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