Volunteers often do not think that they are covered by workers’ compensation laws. However, for volunteer ambulance workers, there is a specific law that covers them, the Volunteer Ambulance Workers’ Benefits Law. This law provides for both medical care and cash benefits for volunteer ambulance workers that are injured or become ill on duty.
The local political subdivision where the ambulance worker volunteers is responsible for paying workers’ compensation insurance. And, that LPS cannot require the volunteer to contribute or cover any insurance cost. In addition, the volunteer’s medical care and cash benefits are paid by the LPS’s insurance carrier according to New York State law. If there is a dispute, just like all workers’ compensation disputes, it is resolved by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.
Who is eligible?
Anyone that volunteers as an ambulance worker in New York State is likely covered, but the injury or illness must have occurred in the line of duty. Though, there may be volunteers that volunteer with a private company, who is not under contract with the LPS or any local government. These volunteers are covered by that private company’s optional workers’ compensation coverage.
How to make a claim?
A completed Form VAW-3 (Volunteer Ambulance Worker’s Claim for Benefits) is needed, and it needs to be filed with the Board. The Board can assist filers, or a workers’ compensation attorney can be retained. This must be filed within two years of the workplace accident or the date the volunteer died. Notice must also be given within 90 days of the injury or illness to volunteer’s employer or LPS through the secretary of the fire district or company, clerk of the board of supervisors of the county, etc. Essentially, whoever took responsibility for volunteers and used their services is responsible for the volunteers’ workers’ compensation benefits.
Cash benefits for deaths, total disabilities and loss of use (partial disabilities) are fixed for all volunteers throughout the five New York City boroughs and throughout New York State, generally. Benefits can be paid out weekly or in a lump sum, depending on the circumstances. For medical care, the medical providers are billed and paid directly, in addition to any other benefits received. Though, the medical providers must be approved by the Board.