Workers comp reform in New York: a bad situation made worse for injured workers

“Reform” of a century-old bargain has led to drastically reduced benefits for unwary injured workers.

Workers compensation began as a "grand compromise" between employers and workers. Through workers' compensation, employees agree to not file a lawsuit against their employer in return for insurance coverage to pay for the cost of medical care in case of injury.

Insurance companies are not living up to their end of the deal. In recent years, "reform" of workers' compensation has meant that many injured workers must struggle in order to pay for medical care and lost wages that historically has been provided by workers compensation.

According to a recent investigation by NPR and ProPublica, reform has been "disastrous" to injured workers. Big business and insurance companies back these reforms, under the guise of skyrocketing costs. Little evidence exists to back these claims.

New York is one of the states making changes to these century-old worker protection laws. New York passed workers' compensation reform in 2014, cutting workers' compensation benefits by an estimated 20 percent for permanently partially disabled workers.

Other systematic hurdles to getting workers' compensation benefits exist. Insurance companies and employers may require an injured worker to see a doctor paid for by the employer or insurance company, who will then diagnose an injury and suggest treatment. These doctors are paid for by businesses looking to reduce payments to injured workers. It isn't surprising that these doctors often recommend the least expensive option for treatment.

Many states, including New York, have enacted arbitrary caps on the amount an injured worker can receive. Injured workers must also meet numerous deadlines or lose the right to receive workers' compensation.

Why injured workers need an attorney

For many injured workers, the workers' compensation system has failed. Workers become injured while doing their best on the job. The expectation is that if an accident occurs, a system designed to help them - a system that was created specifically for such an accident - would step up and help out. This has proved to not be the case for many.

That is why injured workers should speak to an experienced workers' compensation attorney to discuss filing a claim or appealing a denial. Insurance companies make money by denying claims, and will do so whenever possible. Injured workers need an attorney on their side who can fight for their rights.

If you have been injured on the job, the attorneys at Angiuli & Gentile, LLP, have the experience to help injured workers get the benefits you deserve. Don't leave your claim in the hands of a system shifting more and more towards benefitting employers and insurance companies.

Keywords: Workers' compensation, grand compromise, New York, work injury, work illness, workers' compensation caps, Angiuli & Gentile, LLP