New York’s recent workers’ comp reform an attempt to reduce employer costs

Workers' compensation in New York can be a complicated area of the law that tries to balance the various interests of injured workers, employers and insurance companies. In an attempt to save employers administrative costs, the recently passed New York budget eliminated the state's past methods used to collect annual assessments in workers' comp cases from employers and streamlined the process. The state has estimated employers, who pay for the assessments, may save up to $500 million with the new method.

The new budget also eliminated the Fund for Reopened Cases, which stopped funding the process insurers used for appealing claim decisions and can create extra costs for employers. Advocates of eliminating this fund believed this created extra costs without benefit to injured workers.

Minimum weekly benefits for injured workers also increased from $100 to $150.

Are further changes to workers' comp ahead?

The recent budget changes may not be the end of the story. Many insurance providers and municipal officials are seeking to change scaffolding law in New York this session. They argue that Section 240 of the state's labor law - the so-called "Scaffold Law" - regarding scaffolding injuries should be changed. Currently, state law allows for property owners and contractors to be held liable for injuries without regard to negligence if the construction worker was injured while on the scaffold. Advocates argue the proposed changes would save municipalities money, while construction workers argue they would be subject to even greater injury risk on the job if the current law is eliminated.

Filing a claim

With the myriad provisions governing workers' compensation in New York, it can be difficult to navigate the process of filing a workers' comp claim. For example, an injured worker must notify his or her employer of the injury within 30 days. The worker must then prove he or she is injured, must compile documents regarding the medical condition and may have to submit to an independent medical examination if the insurance company asks. The injured worker must also prove that the injury occurred while performing job duties.

A workers' comp attorney can help

Because of the deadlines associated with a workers' compensation claim, it is necessary to begin the workers comp process soon after the injury occurs. Workers who have been injured on the job should consult with an experienced workers compensation attorney to discuss their legal options and discuss potential first steps.