A number of proposed changes to the New York State workers’ compensation system will not be in the upcoming budget.
Business groups are upset because insurance costs, which dropped precipitously in the wake of 2007 reforms, are now 20 percent higher than they were before those changes took effect. Meanwhile, although benefits went up in some cases, those benefits are generally capped at 10 years, and they are not paid until the matter is fully resolved. But despite this dissatisfaction, planned reforms, such as doing away with the Aggregate Fund and expanding disclosure requirements, will not move forward.
But Governor Cuomo is not giving up. “We’re always open to additional ways of bringing fairness and efficiency to the Workers’ Compensation program,” said Budget Division spokesperson Morris Peters.
Workers’ Compensation Injuries
Despite the presence of workplace safety laws and government watchdogs, many workplaces are still very dangerous. In New York City alone, dozens of workers in a wide variety of industries are killed every year. Workers’ compensation provides no-fault insurance for:
- Occupational Diseases: Conditions like repetitive stress disorders, respiratory problems, and other maladies develop over the course of more than one work shift.
- Trauma Injuries: Slip and falls, motor vehicle crashes, and other unanticipated events cause serious injuries almost every day at worksites everywhere.
Because of the benefits cap and other changes, there is generally less money available for injured workers. So, insurance agents are more aggressive than ever in these cases, and they look for every way possible to limit benefits or deny them altogether.
The reduced benefits and lengthy delays are causing some advocates to question the entire no-fault insurance system. This fight has not reached New York yet, but an Oklahoma court recently ruled that part of that state’s workers’ compensation system was no longer a realistic alternative to litigation. It may be only a matter of time before labor unions and other New York advocates start asking the same questions.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed at work, regardless of fault, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help ensure that you get the benefits you deserve.