Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation
What should an injured worker do when they are injured on the job?
When an individual is injured on the job, the first responsibility is to give written notice to the employer. Second, see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident and report all injuries sustained in the accident. Finally, the injured worker should seek the advice of an attorney about filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.
Is there a time limit on when I must file my workers’ compensation claim?
If an individual sustains an accident at work, the individual must report the incident, in writing, to their employer within 30 days, and a claim must be filed with the Workers’ Compensation Board within 2 years of the date of the accident. With regard to occupational disease injuries, a claim must be filed within 2 years of when the injured worker knew or should have known, that their injury was related to work.
After my work injury, does my employer have to accommodate my work restrictions?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Unless your employer has declared in writing that they will accommodate an injured employee’s work limitations. This may be done in an individual employee contract or employee handbook.
Exceptions to this rule are employers who obligate themselves to either hold an injured worker’s position open or accommodate an injured worker’s limitations through an employee benefit program (usually outlined in an employee handbook) or through collective bargaining (union) or individual employment
If I am out of work due to my work injury, can my employer fire me without cause?
Most likely, yes. Unless you fall into a few exceptions, you are subject to New York State’s “employment/termination at will” doctrine which allows an employer to terminate an employee with or without cause. However, you may have protections if you belong to a union that has fought for certain rights through collective bargaining. Also, if you have an individual employment contract with your employer, then you may have additional rights therein.
What is the Average Weekly Wage (also called “AWW”)?
The AWW is the average gross weekly earnings of an injured worker during the 1 year or 52 weeks prior to the date of injury. The AWW amount is crucial as it is the starting point in determining how much money are entitled to. Once the AWW is set by the Workers’ Compensation Board then it is permanent. The AWW is usually set at the first hearing. Never go to a Workers’ Comp hearing alone. Call Steenberg Law Firm for a free consultation.
How long can I receive my benefits as a result of an injury sustained in an accident at work?
An individual who sustains an accident at work is entitled to medical care for those injuries potentially for the rest of their life as long as the treatment remains related to the work injury. Additionally, an individual who is injured at work may be entitled to weekly payments indefinitely into the future, but this depends on the type of injury and the severity of the injury.
Am I entitled to an award even if I do not lose time from work?
An individual may be entitled to an award for any permanent loss of use of an extremity, such as an arm, a leg, fingers, toes, even if they do not lose any time from work. A person may have a permanent “loss of use” by simply having some range of motion loss one year after the injury. An individual may also be entitled to an award if they have a permanent loss of vision, permanent loss of hearing, or any permanent facial disfigurement.
What is a “Schedule Loss of Use” Award?
A Schedule Loss of Use award, known as an “SLU,” is an additional lump sum cash payment for extremity injuries. The purpose of this SLU award is to compensate you for any ‘loss of use or ability’ in a body part as a result of your work injury. One year after the injury, if you do not get back the same level of use in an injured body part, you may be entitled to an SLU award. An SLU award may be offered if you injured one of the following body parts: Arm, Leg, Hand, Fingers, Foot, Toe, Eye (Loss Vision), Ear (Hearing Loss) & Facial Scars (Facial/Neck/Scalp scars). Call Steenberg Law Firm for more info.
If I retain an attorney at Steenberg Law Firm, how are attorney fees paid in workers’ compensation cases?
If Steenberg Law Firm represents you in a workers’ comp case, the injured worker NEVER pays the attorney fee directly out of pocket. Rather, the insurance company pays our office out of the award we win for you. All fees are reviewed and approved by the Workers’ Compensation Board.
How do I settle my workers’ compensation case?
A claimant can attempt to settle their workers’ comp case with the insurance company at any stage of the case. There are different types of settlements. Generally, an individual will settle the claim for a lump sum of money in exchange for permanently closing their entire case which includes the right to receive weekly indemnity benefits and related medical coverage. In another type of settlement, called an indemnity-only settlement, an individual can retain their medical benefit and settle the indemnity portion of their claim. Remember, the insurance companies are NOT looking out for you – never settle your case alone.
If the workplace causes the death of a loved one, can surviving family members get benefits?
There are also benefits for an individual’s family, or dependents when the workplace causes the death of a worker. When the deceased worker does not have living dependents, such as a spouse or children, then the insurance carrier must typically still pay a lump sum to the estate. The insurance company is also responsible for any burial costs up to certain limits, depending upon the county the decedent lived in.