Our state’s workers’ compensation statutes were enacted to address historic inequalities that amongst workers when they were injured on the job. Prior to workers’ compensation laws, ever workplace injury was litigated or went uncompensated, depending on the circumstances and resources of the works. This meant that poorer and minority injured workers were just injured and had to deal with it, or not work at all. This, of course, was an untenable situation. This is true for both private and state/city workers and their governmental employers.
The workers’ compensation trade-off
The New York workers’ compensation statute is a trade-off. One where the employer, whether it is the state, city or a private employer, assumes all liability for any injury that occurs in the course of employment or as a result of employment, regardless of who was at fault for that injury. The employee gets immediate, but limited, wage replacement, along with all of there necessary and related medical costs paid. But, the employee cannot bring any additional personal injury lawsuit against their employer. Essentially, this means that the employer is taking on 100% liability for a limit to that liability, and the employee is limiting their recovery to ensure they are compensated and their medical costs paid.
How New York City handles workers’ compensation
NYC’s workers’ compensation insurance is self-insurance, meaning they insure themselves and do not use a third-party workers’ compensation insurance provider, like most other employers. This self-insurance applies to all covered NYC employees (all five boroughs of the NYC metro area) and most qualify, with the exception of firefighters, police officers and uniformed sanitation workers (among others). Though, all employees of the City University, Health and Hospitals Corporation and non-pedagogical employees of the Department of Education are included.
Who handles the claims?
NYC handles workers’ compensation claims through the appropriately titled, Workers’ Compensation Division. The WCD handles all claims from covered employees that get occupational diseases or who are injured on the job (or as a result of the job). They provide all the medical and wage replacement benefits, but they do litigate when they feel claims are unwarranted, which is why NYC employees still, usually, retain an attorney. In fact, the WCD participates in about 15,000 trials, hearings and appeals every year before the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.