Being injured can be a terrible strain on your professional and personal life. When your injuries are the result of a workplace accident, you are entitled to help with paying your medical expenses related to the injury.
If you have been injured at work in the state of New York, the Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB) requires your employer to cover the costs of any treatment related to the injury. If you are receiving bills for your medical care after filing a worker’s compensation claim with the WCB, you may not have to pay them out of pocket. Below, the experts at Accident Help Zone discuss what to do if you are injured at work and how to handle any bills that come your way after filing a claim.
Workplace injuries can range in severity. Some of the most common workplace accidents are slips and falls. Slip and fall accidents may not sound serious, but they can have drastic consequences. For example, a fall accident could result in damages to your spine. A simple fall may start with a dull backache. However, overtime, this can worsen and become debilitating as you continue to push on without medical treatment. These types of injuries are often considered reaction injuries as they happen as a result of a clear incident, such as a slip. They may take a day or two to present, which can delay initiating the worker’s compensation claim process.
If you are worried you may have to prove you were not at fault for your workplace accident, you are in luck. In New York, worker’s compensation claims fall under a “no-fault” law. That means you are not held accountable for an accident that results in injuries if you were injured at work. (This means you do not need to worry about the WCB faulting you for being careless and using it to deny your worker’s compensation claim.)
A fall accident is not the only type of incident that can result in an injury. Repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, can occur after prolonged exposure to unsafe conditions, including hunching over a desk all day.
Overextension injuries are also common. These often occur as the result of improper lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling and holding. These injuries are most common among stocking, construction and moving professions.
Because of the expenses related to workplace accidents, it is in your employer’s best interest to provide and promote a healthy, safe working environment. Encouraging regular breaks can help prevent repetitive stress and overextension injuries. Proper safety protocols, as well as training employees on safety, are some of the steps an employer can take to minimize potential workplace accidents.
Although many can and should be, not all workplace accidents can be prevented. Whether your workplace accident was or was not preventable, however, it is essential that you report it as soon as possible in writing to your supervisor or employer.
New York State Worker’s Compensation Law (WCL) gives you thirty days to officially report your workplace injuries to your employer. (In the case of an occupational disease, however, you have up to two years after your diagnosis to report your injuries.) Because of this time limit, waiting to report a claim can mean you lose out on the possible benefits of a worker’s compensation claim. In short, you may be left to pay for your own medical expenses if you fail to report your workplace injuries.
When you file your written notice of the workplace accident and injuries to your employer, they should give you Form C-3. You will need to fill this form out and submit it to the nearest WCB. Your employer will also need to file Form C-2 with the WCB and their insurance provider. These forms will formally start the worker’s compensation claim process.
You should maintain copies of your written notice your employer regarding your workplace injuries, as well as Form C-3 and any other reports, bills, and documents related to your workplace accident. You should also write down a detailed account of the fall for your records while the memory of the accident is still fresh on your mind.
Worker’s compensation covers more than you may realize. This includes any ambulance trips to the emergency room, emergency room visits, hospital stays, appointment fees, diagnostic tests, surgeries, rehabilitation, specialist visits, and other medical expenses related to your workplace injuries. However, they also cover attorney fees and court costs as well if the workplace injuries result in a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, some workplace accidents result in loss of life. If this occurs, worker’s compensation will cover funeral costs as well. (In fact, for the Metropolitan New York counties, worker’s compensation may pay up to $12,500 for funeral expenses; all others areas will cover up to $10,500 of funeral expenses if a loved one was killed as the result of a workplace accident.) Weekly cash benefits may also be paid to the family of a deceased employee to help compensate for up to two-thirds of the lost income.
In addition to your medical bills, worker’s compensation claims may result in cash benefits as well. If your workplace injuries result in a disability that lasts more than fourteen days, you may receive compensation for your lack of pay. (Claimants will not receive compensation for the first seven days, but will be back paid once their claim has been approved.) In addition to this, even if you are cleared to return to work, your injury may prevent you from being able to perform the same duties and earn the same pay. Worker’s compensation can help make up to two-thirds of the discrepancies.
What does all this mean to you? If you were injured as the result of a workplace accident, your employer or their insurance company will be responsible for your medical bills.
If you were injured at work and you have filed a claim with your employer, their insurance company will review the case. If they approve the incident as a workplace accident, they should pay the bill for your medical care. If you receive a bill instead, you should contact the hospital billing company and direct them to submit the bill to your employer’s insurance provider. (The billing company’s information should be clearly located on the bill itself. If not, you may need to call the hospital itself and have them update their records or contact the billing department on your behalf.)
If your employer’s insurance provider does not approve your claim, however, you may need to file an appeal with the WCB. Medical bills can be very hefty. You do not want to pay these out of pocket if you can avoid it. You will want to maintain copies of any bills you receive.
The experts at Accident Help Zone strongly advise you to seek legal help in regards to your worker’s compensation claim. Whether you believe your case will proceed to court or not, a worker’s compensation lawyer will act as your advocate throughout the entire process. An experienced and reputable worker’s compensation lawyer can ensure your case is treated fairly and you receive the care and benefits that you are entitled to.
A worker’s compensation lawyer can help you gather the right documents, file the correct paperwork, and assess the potential outcome of a WCB hearing. This becomes especially important if your employer’s insurance provider does not approve your claim.
These lawyers can also help advise you on what to do with any bills or documents from the hospital, your employer or their insurance provider. They can also help you find a doctor if you feel that your treating doctor is not providing the help you need. (The WCB provides a list of authorized healthcare professionals for worker’s compensation claims. A practiced worker’s compensation lawyer can help you find one that can help assess your injuries, provide clear treatment options, and articulate testimony if you need to go to court. You can also search for authorized WCB doctors by visiting online directories like ZocDoc and InjuredCallToday.com
The worker’s compensation can be complicated if you have never been injured at work before. This complex system is yet another reason to seek the help of a qualified worker’s compensation lawyer. (New employers may also be unfamiliar with how the worker’s compensation process works, and forms or deadlines may be missed if they do not understand their responsibilities under the WCL.) A worker’s compensation lawyer can help keep all parties accountable and honest as the process develops.
Workplace accidents are more common than you may realize and you should not be held responsible for any injuries you suffer while at work. Because of the time limits placed on filing worker’s compensation claims, it is essential that you do not wait to file your claim if you have suffered workplace injuries.
Even if you do not feel as if your injury requires medical treatment, you should seek help anyway. These injuries can become more severe overtime, however, you may invalidate your claim if you wait too long to seek treatment.
You should also seek the help of a reputable and experienced worker’s compensation lawyer. These professionals can help you throughout the entire process and act as your advocate. If you have questions about any part of the worker’s compensation process, including where your medical bills should be sent, a worker’s compensation lawyer is your go-to sounding board.
Should you pay medical bills related to your workplace injury? No. But talk to a lawyer before you make any financial decisions to ensure you abide by the WCL.
If you or your family member have been involved in a workplace accident or injured at work in New York, we invite you to explore our free comprehensive library of work-related accident information. Whether you need more information about filing your workers’ compensation claim or need help with finding out how to get an accident injury doctors or workers’ comp attorney for your on-the-job injuries, you’ve come to the right place – Accident Help Zone is here to help you and your loved ones!