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Should I settle my New York Workers’ Compensation case?

Should I settle my New York Workers’ Compensation case?

One common concern for clients who have been injured on the job is whether they should settle their Workers’ Comp case. Section 32 of the New York State Worker’s Compensation Law provides for full and final settlement of a Worker’s Compensation case including the closure of any and all issues, usually for a lump sum payment. The right to medical treatment in New York never ends. However, with a Section 32 agreement, that right and the right to weekly payments can be terminated for a lump sum payment.

Because New York now restricts the number of years and the amount that a person may receive workers compensation indemnity payments, oftentimes it makes sense to close a case with a lump sum payment. gavel and legal docThere are many reasons that people decide to close out their case, but the most common is that the person no longer wishes to be responsive to the workers compensation carrier and is ready to move on with their life.

While there is no right to close a case out with a Section 32 agreement, both the insurance company and the injured worker can benefit from settling the case. To close out a case, the settlement requires all parties to come to an agreement as to the amount of compensation due not only for the value of future indemnity payments, but also the value of future medical, which is usually included in the settlement.

Many insurance companies will not agree to close out the indemnity portion of the case without closing the medical side as well. Every claimant in the New York State Workers’ Compensation system has to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to close out their case and particularly their right to medical treatment. An attorney experienced at handling Worker’s Compensation cases can assist the injured worker in deciding whether or not closing out their case is appropriate in their situation.

Settlement of the Worker’s Compensation case is not guaranteed, and often times does not make sense. The injured worker becomes financially responsible for their care. It is possible that the person may eventually be picked up by Medicare, or a private insurer, but there is no guarantee that this will occur.

If you have an open New York Workers Compensation case and wish to have an attorney advise you whether or not settlement is appropriate, please contact the Snyder Law Firm at 315-451-3040 for a free consultation.

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Work Related Back Injuries: The Nursing Conundrum

One thing that I have noticed during my career as a New York Workers’ Compensation attorney is the high rate of incidents involving nurses with back injuries. One may not immediately associate back injuries with nursing, but one need only stop to think for a second about all of the potential hazards nurses face during the course of their employment.

 

Lifting patients, having patients pull on the nurse, falls due to hazards in the room such as wet floors, and the strain of bending over numerous times to care for patients are all substantial risks for nurses. Amazingly enough, nurses suffer back injuries at a higher rate than construction, mining, or manufacturing workers! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released numerous studies supporting this claim.Image

 

When it comes to nursing staff who have more direct patient contact, such as orderlies, Licensed Practical Nurses or Certified Nurse’s Aides, the incidents are even higher. Unlike a registered nurse, orderlies, LPNs and CNAs do not have the ability to perform light-duty work. Their essential job functions require them to be able to lift patients. The practical effect is that when a nurse suffers a serious enough back injury, oftentimes they can no longer be the employed in that same line of work. Not only will they have a significant loss in immediate income, but they will also lose paid time being retrained into an area of nursing that does not require patient lifting or, sometimes, into a new industry altogether that would not expose the worker to further back injury.

 

From a Workers’ Compensation perspective, back injuries frequently result in the injured worker having a permanent partial disability. For nurses who are unable to be retrained, the damages to the wage capacity of the nurse are profound. Not only will the nurse have in excess of 560 weeks of compensation due to be paid to the New York Aggregate Trust Fund (ATF) at the time of classification for a permanent disability, but the employer is also responsible for the nurse’s lifetime medical expenses arising from the back injury. The medical costs for a back injury can skyrocket over the course of time. When there is an injury to a specific level within the spine, oftentimes the levels adjacent to that level eventually wear and require treatment as well. This can have the effect of increasing the classification rate and the additional exposure of the cost of that medical care. One estimate from the CDC in 2009 put the cost of back injuries to healthcare professionals at $20 billion dollars annually.

 

The CDC (http://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2008/09/22/lifting/) has released recommendations to limit exposure to back injuries. There are numerous methods that healthcare facilities can implement that will limit the possible risk of back injury to nurses. Unfortunately, even with the best standards of practice within the nursing industry, accidents will. Implementing  training on proper lifting, using Hoyer lifts, having multiple people lift patients, and spreading out the workload of the most difficult cases, are among the ways that healthcare facilities can reduce the possibility of back injuries. [i]

 

As most people are aware, the demand for nurses remains at an all-time high. By implementing these safety precautions, hopefully the industry can keep some of its most valuable assets.

 

Retraining injured healthcare professionals may be the best way to keep the person productive in the field, ease the need for qualified nurses and to increase the injured worker’s earning potential. I also believe that the healthcare facilities should be encouraging strengthening of back muscles and flexibility by offering free gym memberships or classes in their facility to facilitate prevention of back injuries. From a cost perspective, the potential for back injuries would be reduced from this ounce of prevention. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has had numerous studies to attempt to limit the occupational back injury exposure to nursing assistants, aides and orderlies. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8728153.

 

 

Frequently, there is no specific incident that causes the back pain. The injured worker may not even realize that his or her back pain is work-related. When a nurse is suffering back pain, he or she should not only contact an orthopedic doctor, but should also contact an attorney for consultation on whether the injury may be compensable under Workers’ Compensation laws.  The law imposes strict deadlines on claimants.   If the healthcare professional does not have his or her case pursued correctly from the beginning, the professional may not be able to bring the case later.

 

If you are a nurse and suffered back pain as result of your employment or a work injury, please contact an attorney near you to discuss bringing a Workers’ Compensation case.

 

This article is brought to you by the Snyder Law Firm, PLLC and authored by David B. Snyder, Esq., an attorney with over ten years experience in Workers’ Compensation Law. The Snyder Law Firm, PLLC located at: 6876 Buckley Road, Syracuse, New York 13212. The Snyder Law Firm represents clients throughout the Central New York region at the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.   This article constitutes attorney advertising and is not intended to provide professional advice concerning specific Workers’ Compensation Claims.

 

[i] http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&ved=0CGAQFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.researchgate.net%2Fpublication%2F8397485_An_evaluation_of_a_best_practices_musculoskeletal_injury_prevention_program_in_nursing_homes%2Ffile%2F60b7d5220bdcc6d671.pdf&ei=2JKhU-eeEojQsQTP64CABg&usg=AFQjCNHRyXgQ4s4b_xSelFxQSsl22KgQtw&sig2=Y6s7si2CHZUDwbw-xJSwUg

 

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How to protect yourself financially before you’re in a car crash in New York

There are few things that can be more financially catastrophic than if you are hit through no fault of your own by motorists who is not adequately insured. Oftentimes, the minimum insurance does not begin to cover the amount of damage that you can sustain in even the most minor of accidents. According the the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2011 alone, there were over 307,000 car accidents in New York State resulting in 128,000 accidents with injuries. In order to protect yourself in this situation, I recommend that you contact your insurance company or an insurance agent to discuss obtaining SUM coverage. SUM coverage provides extra insurance above and beyond your own insurance in the event that the driver who was at fault was not adequately insured. This coverage, while somewhat pricey, will provide you relief in the event that this unfortunate circumstance happens to you. The number of drivers who carry minimal insurance makes up the vast majority of drivers. So in the likely event that you are hit by another vehicle through no fault of your own, and you are seriously injured, the driver who hit you will likely have the minimum insurance. As you can imagine, $25,000 to not go very far when it comes to making up for your lost wages and pain and suffering. The chart below gives you the amount of insurance per person and accident that the states minimally require. If you are seriously injured in a car accident in New York, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

State Liability limits         (in thousands of dollars) Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage required?
Alabama 25/50/25 No
Alaska 50/100/25 No
Arizona 15/30/10 No
Arkansas 25/50/25 No
California 15/30/5 No
Colorado 25/50/15 No
Connecticut 20/40/10 Yes
Delaware 15/30/10 No
        D.C. 25/50/10 Yes
Florida 10/20/10 No
Georgia 25/50/25 No
Hawaii 20/40/10 No
Idaho 25/50/15 No
Illinois 20/40/15 Yes
Indiana 25/50/10 No
Iowa 20/40/15 No
Kansas 25/50/10 Yes
Kentucky 25/50/10 No
Louisiana 15/30/25 No
Maine 50/100/25 Yes
Maryland 30/60/15 Yes
Massachusetts 20/40/5 Yes
Michigan 20/40/10 No
Minnesota 30/60/10 Yes
Mississippi 25/50/25 No
Missouri 25/50/10 Yes
Montana 25/50/10 No
Nebraska 25/50/25 No
Nevada 15/30/10 No
New Hampshire Not required. If elected: 25/50/25 Yes
New Jersey 15/30/5 Yes
New Mexico 25/50/10 No
New York 25/50/10 Yes
North Carolina 30/60/25 Yes
North Dakota 25/50/25 Yes
Ohio 12.5/25/7.5 No
Oklahoma 25/50/25 No
Oregon 25/50/10 Yes
Pennsylvania 15/30/5 No
Rhode Island 25/50/25 No
South Carolina 25/50/25 No
South Dakota 25/50/25 Yes
Tennessee 25/50/15 No
Texas 30/60/25 No
Utah 25/65/15 No
Vermont 25/50/10 Yes
Virginia 25/50/20 Yes
Washington 25/50/10 No
West Virginia 20/40/10 Yes
Wisconsin 50/100/15 (current); 25/50/10 (effective 11/01/11) Yes
Wyoming 25/50/20 No

David B. Snyder, Esq.

6876 Buckley Road

Syracuse, NY 13212

315-451-3040

https://snyderlf.com/Syracuse_Car_Crash_Lawyer.html

Mr. Snyder is licensed to practice in New York where he practices personal injury work in Syracuse; he cannot offer legal advice in other states. This blog is meant to be a public service and not an attempt to solicit business. Moreover, my posts

cannot be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. Unless I am retained in a matter and have completed a full investigation of the underlying facts and law, I cannot give an opinion on which to rely. Furthermore, unless your matter concerns New York law, I am not licensed to practice or give specific legal advice in your state.

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Purpose

The purpose of this Blog is to review New York Personal Injury Law and answer questions posed to me about New York Personal Injury Law with a focus on car accidents, Workers’ Compensation and medical malpractice law. My practice is located in Syracuse, New York. If you have any questions feel free to write me!

My work homepages are www.snyderlf.com and www.syracuseworkerscomp.com.David Snyder BlSm

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