Six years after a job injury rendered him unable to work for over a year, a Queens man finally obtained his workers’ compensation payment from the MTA.
Werner Schuler hurt his knee at the Stillwell Avenue station in 2008; the injury disabled him for 54 weeks. He says the agency refused to pay the claim, even after a favorable decision from the Workers’ Compensation Board, a union grievance, and an arbiter ordered the MTA to do so. Finally, after a local broadcaster intervened, the MTA paid Mr. Schuler $2,105 after taxes, just prior to yet another hearing.
Mr. Schuler said he was “overjoyed” at the “miracle.”
Workers’ Compensation Process
Just a few years ago, the workers’ compensation system was a hopeless mess. After an 18-month investigation, the New York Times concluded that the system was “like a MASH unit” that dispensed “meatball justice.” Cases took an average of 802 days to reach the final hearing; meanwhile, the insurance company routinely refused to pay for necessary treatments, with the result that injuries healed slowly, improperly, or not at all.
Some recent reforms have made the system somewhat more efficient, but it was already 30 percent slower than comparable processes in other states, so there was nowhere to go but up. And while the leadership at the top is different, faces have changed little among the hearing officers, clerks, and adjusters who make the system work.
This inefficiency has a purpose. With dwindling resources to pay claims, adjusters try to weed out as many as possible. They hope that the claimants will either abandon their cases or accept a pennies-on-the-dollar settlement offer.
Despite the adverse environment, there is still plenty of money available for meritorious claims that are aggressively pursued. If you or a loved one was hurt at work, you are entitled to cash benefits for your:
- Lost wages,
- Medical expenses,
- Future lost wages, and
- Prescription drugs.
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance, meaning that victims need only establish that the injury occurred at work; fault is irrelevant. In some cases, it is possible to sue outside the system and receive additional noneconomic damages, and possibly punitive damages as well.
Injured workers are entitled to significant cash benefits. For a free consultation with attorneys who aggressively pursue your claim, contact our office. We do not charge upfront legal fees in a workers’ compensation case.