Workers' compensation is a form of insurance that provides benefits for workers who sustain injuries or illness as a result of their occupation. The program is employer-funded, and thus does not require that the worker fund its costs for compensation. The program is administered by a Workers Compensation Board within New York State. When a worker is injured on the job there is no assessment or allocation of fault (excluding intoxication). The benefits that the claimant receives are not impacted by a degree of fault to the worker or employer. When an injured worker files a claim that is determined to be a result of work, it is paid. In situations where there is a dispute regarding whether the injury was work-related, a judge intervenes to rule on the matter.
Death claims resulting from work allow a surviving spouse, minor children, or other children less than 23 years of age attending college full-time to receive death benefits. Other less common beneficiaries many include children of any age that are legally disabled or blind. If there is no spouse, dependent, or child, other family members may potentially qualify for benefits based on additional criteria. After the tragedy on September 11, 2001, the Board began recognizing "domestic partners" as surviving spouses for these purposes.
The amount is calculated based on the deceased's average weekly wages for the preceding year. The Average Weekly Wage (AWW) for purposes of workers' compensation is equivalent to 1/52nd of their total earnings from the last year. In cases where the worker does not have prior year's wages to review, the Board makes a determination based on a comparable worker's wages within the industry.
There are situations when those who previously were injured or who suffered a job-related illness and are receiving benefits will die from the condition. Here, the next of kin must file a C-62 form with the Board, as well as a C-64 from the deceased's treating physician. The C-64 that their doctor completes is to affirm the cause of death was attributed to the condition which initiated the compensation claim. Additionally, a form known as a C-65 is to be completed by the funeral director involved.
If the parents are the lone remaining relative, a one-time "no dependency" award is payable to the worker's parent(s). This amount is roughly a sum of $50,000 plus a maximum of $6,000 allocated for funeral expenses.
Workers compensation was partially developed to forego the lengthy and costly burden associated with civil litigations such as wrongful death. Workers' Compensation began back in the early 1900's and workers waived their right to sue for negligence in civil suits. The compromise is that injured or killed workers would be adequately compensated regardless of fault. In NY, the representative of a deceased individual in a wrongful death case must prove that negligence caused the death, and that further damages resulted. Wrongful death cases may award damages for both economic and non-economic losses.
Attorneys that specialize in Workers' Compensation can be quite beneficial to the claimant. They can assist with filing a claim, deliver answers to questions, and provide representation in meetings with the Board. There are several disputes that can arise in these cases such as determining if the injuries are truly work-related, the severity of disabilities, and the level of benefits. In court, the insurance company is likely to have legal counsel on hand; therefore, an experienced NY workers' compensation attorney can help insure you receive a fair hearing.
Those who were recently injured on the job that are filing a Workers' Compensation claim deserve justice. For over 50 years, the firm of Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP has been an advocate for injured workers in New York. To review the specifics of your case through a free consultation, contact the office today at (212) 986-7353.