Workers' compensation, as a concept, is not new. Its history traces back some 4,000 years to ancient Sumeria. Documented law from that time includes provisions for monetary compensation for a worker's loss of body parts and even broken bones. A few hundred years later, Ancient Greek, Roman, Arab, and Chinese law all provided sets of compensation schedules, with precise payments for the loss of a body part. In the millennia since, the model has spread around the world and the standard of coverage has changed.
Nations, as well as every state in the U.S., have come up with their own guidelines of what workers' compensation should cover. In this post, we aim to provide you with an overview of the basic benefits required by New York law.
The purpose of workers' compensation is to provide a legal system that protects the lives, health, and safety of workers by ensuring payment of compensation for injuries or death, without regard as to fault. When a worker is hurt on the job, workers’ compensation laws ensure:
- Medical treatment for the injury or illness
- Monetary benefits for lost wages due to lost time while injured, recovering, or retraining for a new job
In cases where an injury results in death, survivors may be entitled to supplemental benefits and recover for:
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages for a set number of years
It's important to be aware that, by law, there are specific limits on monetary benefits. Payment for medical care starts immediately, but unless it is clear that the disability you have suffered is going to put you out of commission for more than a week, wage benefits are delayed for the first seven days. The level of weekly benefit you may be eligible for is derived by a set formula and cannot exceed a maximum amount. If you return to work, but at a lower wage than you earned previously, the law says you may be eligible to receive a monetary benefit equal to up to two-thirds of the difference.
It is also important to remember that while the law sets limits on available benefits, insurance companies often try to avoid paying even that much, by any way they can. This can happen even when it seems the insurance company is being pleasant to you. For confidence that you are doing everything you can to protect your rights and maximize your benefit eligibility, contact an experienced workers' compensation law firm.