The Do’s and Don’ts When Injured at Work in New York
New York can be a scary, intimidating place. Everything is bigger, louder, and tougher in NY, including the dedication to fairness, and iron fist when enforcing the laws. Safety is a top priority throughout the state, and while New York shares certain regulations and ideals with other states, the laws designed to ensure the protection and equal treatment of its citizens are nothing to take lightly. This includes something as simple (sounding) as work-related injuries. If you feel too intimidated by the process, you can also seek Queens workers compensation lawyers.
Most businesses and employers manage and monitor their own work injury protocols. They have the authority to handle things within the company’s command chain without interference, as long as their regulations satisfy the state laws. However, New York keeps a watchful eye on the due process of injury claims and the employees deemed “entitled to,” or “lawfully deserving of” workman’s compensation benefits once the claim investigation concludes.
What is a Work-Related Injury in New York State?
Most people assume that the term refers to ANY injury sustained in the workplace, on job-related equipment or machinery, or while driving the company car. FALSE! In short, the state of New York defines “work-related injuries” as those accidentally sustained by an employee while on the clock for your SCHEDULED shift, at your ASSIGNED work station, while fulfilling tasks befitting of your specific job title and position. For example, if you trip over an obstacle while on a supply run that takes you into other people’s work stations, and you suffer a broken nose, that does not count as a state-defined work-related injury. You were injured, and it happened at work during you shift, but you were outside your own working zone, and therefore not technically “actively working” at the time of the incident. You will probably still be required to do the incident report song-and-dance with your supervisors for company records, but in New York, you would not be entitled to workman’s comp.
You can, of course, try to push a claim through the system by calling W.C. yourself, as long as you can fulfil any request they have for you. It isn’t against the law for them to review any employee’s claim more carefully before approving or rejecting it. However, the state of NY will likely intervene, dragging out an already lengthy process by several more miles, only to end up winning the race when exhausted W.C. officials deny your claim in accordance with state laws.
Is it Worth Filing/Reporting A Work Related Injury in New York?
Absolutely YES! Although state law does not overtly require you to report injuries sustained at work, if any issues arise later in relation to your accident, whether directly or indirectly, and affect the company, other workers, or the state in any way, you could find yourself in serious hot legal water anyway. Plus, most bosses get very angry when they hear about the accident from someone other than the person/people involved. Even you think you won’t win a workman’s comp case, you should ALWAYS report everything and follow protocol to the letter. There are exceptions to EVERY rule, but no one will ever see an extenuating circumstance in your case if it was never documented! DO file the claim.
What to Do About Your NYC Work Injury?
Document, report, record, and verify EVERYTHING as soon after the accident as possible. The less room for doubt and error you leave in your account of the details, the stronger you build the foundation on which you will have to stand and fight for your W.C. rights. If you have a reliable witness, he or she may be quite useful; however, if no one but the shop gossip hound saw anything, don’t barge in and lose that battle before the war even starts! DO document and keep track of everything you can grasp or remember from the moment your accident occurs.
Seek A Medical Opinion!
The best way to corroborate your version of events is to get yourself checked by a doctor. YOUR doctor, if your injuries don’t demand immediate emergency attention. Your physician has your entire medical history in a thick, fat folder, and he or she can prove without a doubt that your injuries are new and fresh. He or she can also be a secondary witness to your report of a work-related injury, as long as you tell him/her EXACTLY what happened, to whom you reported it, and the steps being taken since your accident. DON’T be afraid to let a credible witness help you!
If your boss tells you that you’ll be covered by workman’s comp IF you consent to a drug test and pass, swallow your pride and agree to the test! Your indignance serves no purpose, other than to stamp “doom” on your W.C. file. Also, your refusal to submit to a drug test could mean that, not only will W.C. not cover you, but it might relinquish the company’s insurance of financial responsibility for your treatment, as well. Show them any pictures, witness statements, and any other evidence you managed to gather, if they ask. You do NOT have to let them make copies (unless a W.C. rep or legal advisor recommends that you do so), and they certainly have no right to try to take it from you under any pretenses. DO cooperate with them all the way.
Don’t Be Afraid of New York Workers Compensation Lawyers
If your boss or a fellow co-worker suddenly brings an attorney into things, do not panic! First, in New York, lawyers are rarely necessary in workman’s comp proceedings, unless the battle has continued for many months unresolved. Second, “lawyering up” is often a scare tactic used out of desperation by someone who knows their case is crumbling to ash, and their only course of action is to rattle you before the final showdown. DON’T let them!
Your Workers Compensation Rights in NYC
- Appeal a decision made regarding your work injury claim case.
- Collect your own evidence (or have a friend/relative do so for you) before leaving the area in which the accident occurred.
- Dispute claims or evidence presented by your boss/employer, IF you have proof to support your rebuttal.
- Refuse to submit to a secondary drug test (IF you passed the first one), another medical exam by a new doctor, lie detector (in extreme scenarios), unwarranted psych evaluation, or machine operating license test (if your current one is still valid and up-to-date).
- Present concrete proof obtained by you (by reasonable and lawful means) that the company is not telling the whole truth in your workman’s comp case.
- Sue any company that refuses to admit responsibility but cannot prove their innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.