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Workers' Compensation Law

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New York Workers’ Compensation Laws

The Empire State is a hard-working place where workers regularly risk their health and wellbeing in the course of their daily work. Hospitality workers in Ithaca, office staff in Albany, and refuse collectors in Staten Island can all suffer illnesses and injuries as a consequence of their employment.

Workers’ compensation rules regulate the insurance that every employer must have, the process an employee must go through to receive workers’ compensation, and the possible benefits they will receive if they do.

Workers’ compensation insurance

New York law requires that nearly all employers have workers’ compensation insurance to cover the cost of workers’ compensation if an employee is injured at work. Employees should not have to contribute to the insurance through their wages.

In general, the acceptance of workers’ compensation benefit means that an employee cannot sue their employer after a workplace injury. Potentially, legal action might be taken to claim some damages, but workers’ compensation benefits might cease during the lawsuit.

What does workers’ compensation cover?

Workers’ compensation covers injuries or illnesses which an employee suffers as a direct consequence of their employment. This could include, for example, when an industrial worker is injured by machinery during their day-to-day work, and a truck driver is hurt while unloading their trailer.

Workers’ compensation can also cover occupational diseases and illnesses that have been caused by employment over the course of time. For example, a worker with breathing problems who has regularly worked in a smoke-filled work environment.

If an employee suffers a valid workplace injury or illness, an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will, if appropriate, cover:

  • Medical expenses
  • Disability benefits, offsetting lost wages while they are unable to work
  • Benefits related to retraining if they are unable to return to their previous role
  • Death benefits

Benefits related to lost wages are based on a percentage of the employee’s full wages, and will be paid until the employee has recovered. If the employee never fully recovers, and has to stop working or change the nature of their employment, they may still receive compensation for the loss of their former livelihood.

How do I claim workers’ compensation in New York?

In New York, the process for claiming workers’ compensation starts with the employee informing their supervisor or manager as soon as possible after the injury has occurred. This must be done within 30 days of the accident. They should also request to see a doctor as soon as practically possible.

The employee will then be given a workers’ compensation claim form which they must submit within two years of the accident.

New York has a strict timeframe for the payment of workers’ compensation after a workplace injury. However, insurance companies can dispute a claim, potentially delaying payment while a dispute is resolved. If this happens, it is often advisable to speak with an experienced workers’ comp attorney who can advise an employee on their options and rights.

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