What's Covered If You're Injured on the Job in New York

Legal tips for when a workplace injury leads to workers’ comp

By Jim Walsh | Last updated on January 29, 2023

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An employee injured on the job should take several immediate steps, says Catherine M. Stanton, a workers’ compensation attorney who represents employees at New York-based Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.
  1. Seek medical treatment (dependent upon severity of injury)
  2. Make sure the doctor or hospital knows it’s a work-related injury
  3. Notify your employer of the injury within 30 days (by state law)
  4. File a claim with the state within two years (you can download the workers’ comp claim form at wcb.ny.gov)
“Accident injuries can include repetitive stress-type injuries, but more commonly what I see are the occupational claims—based on the nature of the work—which are people who work with asbestos, or dust or fumes,” says Stanton. “We see a lot of people who develop occupational injuries to their back, neck and knees if they’re doing a lot of bending and walking. I just had a claim from a woman who worked for Verizon for 20 years, and her knees were shot from going up and down ladders and stairs. We still have the occupational claims in New York, thank goodness, but not every state has that.”

Possible Difficulties in New York Workers’ Compensation

Of course, getting all of your ducks in a row, per the above list, doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of the way is easy. “It can go a hundred different ways,” says Stanton. “It can be a limited claim, where you get paid for your lost time, you get paid for your medical, and you go on your merry way. “If you have a permanent injury and you’re going to be out of work long-term, that’s where the battles begin. … All of these things that the injured workers are supposedly entitled to—the loss of their earnings capacity up to a certain point, loss of benefits and prompt medical attention—is now all subject to the rules and regulations and structures of bureaucracy that the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board has implemented. It’s a myriad of hoops and bureaucracy and forms and things now that, when I first started, I didn’t have to deal with, and that doctors didn’t have to deal with.” Nor did the law firms representing insurance companies. “From our side, the insurance company accepts the claim or denies it, based on the facts,” says Isis Danette Davidson of Garden City-based Goldberg Segalla. “You’ll get a hearing in a couple of weeks; then, depending on the caseload at the Workers’ Compensation Board, maybe in another six weeks we have the hearing or trial, and at that time they make a decision about whether the claim will be established or not. “A lot of claimants try to assert that they have a total disability from any employment for the life of their disability. Total disability is pretty difficult to prove. … The most difficult things to get covered or proved are conditions caused by fainting, nausea, respiratory illness, which are difficult to assign as work and work-related. “The employer has a certain time frame in which to notify their carrier if there is a claim made by the employee,” she says. “You can get a hearing or decision relatively quickly in terms of where the case is going. We usually tell people within 60 to 90 days. That’s pretty quick—but not quick enough, obviously—but there is a mechanism to have a judge make a decision.” If you’d like to know more about this area, read our overviews of workers’ compensation law and social security disability.

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