6 Tips To Maximize Your New York Workers Compensation Claim!
There are a lot of reasons why people fail to get the workers comp benefits they deserve: some don’t understand what’s expected of them, others are tricked by their employer or the insurance company, and many try to go it alone.
By arming yourself with a little knowledge, you can make sure you receive all the compensation you’re entitled to under the law.
My name is Rex Zachofsky, and in this video I’m going to share my top 6 tips for maximizing your workers compensation claim that I’ve figured out after 17 years as a workers compensation lawyer. If you’re looking for a lawyer to help you with your claim with New York Workers Compensation Benefits, please give me a call at 212-406-8989 to schedule a free consultation.
The first and most important thing that I recommend to my clients in order to maximize their award is: see your doctor. And I don’t mean just see them one time, I mean see them on an ongoing basis! I also mean that you should see them excessively. You should see them as often as they instruct you to
Seeing your doctor is important because it creates a better medical record that the judge and insurance company refer to while your case is proceeding. The medical reports that are submitted following regular visits will create a more complete view of your injury and the treatment you need to get better.
If your case has huge, unexplained gaps in your medical records,, it doesn't look good, and it can prevent you from getting the maximum award possible on your case.
A lot of people contact me with cases that are a few years old and have huge gaps in treatment, and they say “Well, I'm hurt and there's nothing I could do so I sat at home and watched TV for six months”
Well, that was a mistake!
How can you know if there is nothing that can be done unless you see a doctor. Generally speaking, in the eyes of a judge and in the eyes of the law, people who are hurt go to the doctor. People who are hurt get treatment.
The reason why you want to go see a doctor on an ongoing basis is because a medical report provides evidence of an ongoing disability, and according to the law it is only good for 90 days! You need to show a judge a medical report indicating that you have an ongoing disability in order to support 90 days of awards.
That means if three months go by and you don’t have another medical report to justify extending your benefits, the insurance company will move to suspend your awards. So you need to see the doctor at least once every three months while you're out of work in order to maintain monetary awards for your lost time.
So go get treatment! Not only will it help maximize the benefits you receive, but it’s also the first step to getting better and going back to work, which is the number one goal.
My next tip is to keep your independent medical exam appointments. Well call these IME’s
The insurance company has a right to send you to see their doctor periodically, and they will take advantage of this in virtually every case… oftentimes more than once! If you want to maximize your workers comp benefits, please keep these appointments.
Missing or rescheduling a whole bunch of them reflects badly on your case when it's l brought to the Judge’s attention. It’s okay to reschedule one or two times, but a pattern of avoiding them will not be looked on kindly by an insurance company or a judge. And if you don’t go to see their doctor at all, it will definitely be used against you.
Disclosing previous injuries and workers comp claims will prevent you from losing your benefits entirely. Failure to do so can be considered insurance fraud, and not only puts you at risk of losing your benefits, but can also carry criminal penalties! This is something that is becoming increasingly prevalent.
When you are filing a new claim for compensation, you must disclose any prior accidents, injuries or claims to the same site of injury. If you received treatment for that injury, you must disclose the doctor and provide a medical release so the records can be obtained.
If you had a prior workers comp claim, you should disclose the date and claim number as well.
You must also disclose these prior accidents and injuries to your treating doctors as well as the insurance company’s consulting doctors. Make sure it is clear to all of the doctors if you had a prior accident, injury or disability to the same body part. If they deny that you told them then it is your word against theirs. Don't let it come to this.
They will ask you about it, and if you don’t tell the truth they will find out. Insurance companies spend a lot of money on investigators and research to discover if you have prior treatment or workers’ compensation injuries. It’s much safer to just be upfront and tell them about your history.
Next, keep your pay stubs and tax returns.
It’s not uncommon for your employer and the insurance company to incorrectly report your earnings, which may result in fewer benefits for you. However, if you save your paystubs, tax returns, and any other records documenting your income, then you can prove the correct amount to the judge. Not only that, if you have a lawyer then they can go after the insurance company for this behavior and get you the maximum amount you deserve!
If you're a car service driver or cab driver or drive for a ride-share service like Uber or Lyft, the New York State Workers Compensation Board sets your average weekly wage at $250 per week, which means you receive almost the minimum rate of compensation on your claim.
I’ve gotten a lot of my delivery driver friends way more money than they would otherwise receive by providing the judge with their tax returns for the year they were injured and the year before, along with the Schedule C showing their gross earnings and deductions.
Next, you should safely return to work when you can.
A lot of people think that when they first get hurt, they need to stay away from work for a long period of time in order to show how injured they are and maximize the award they eventually receive, but, in many circumstances, the opposite is actually true.
In cases known as schedule loss of use, which involve injuries to body parts like arms, legs, hands and feet, any temporary weekly benefits you receive are deducted from any permanent disability award, which means the longer you’re away from work, the less money you’ll receive at the end of the case.
For example, if your injury comes out to be worth $50,000 and you were out of work for 10 weeks and you got paid $1,000/week, that $10,000 is going to get deducted out of your payout, leaving you with $40K.
But if you only took ONE week off of work, you got paid $1,000 from worker's comp for the one week of lost time, then at the end you get paid out $49K.
Also, the sooner you return to work the sooner you start getting paid your salary. So return to work as soon as it’s safe to do so, even if in a reduced capacity!
Next, you should get an attorney.
When you file a workers comp claim, the insurance company knows the law and the judge knows the law… but do you know the law? If not, that’s like playing a game where the referee and the other team know the rules, but you don’t.
Workers compensation law has been around for a very long time, and much like the New York City subway system, it is a patchwork of “fixes” to an antiquated system. That’s why it’s so important to work with a lawyer who understands it and can guide you to maximizing your benefits.
They know what your rights are, they know about hidden “gotchas” like work search…
They know how to prevent your claim from getting denied by the insurance company…
They know how to report your injury correctly…
They know when you’re getting ripped off, and they know when it’s the right time to settle your case.
A lawyer also has a fiduciary and legal and ethical obligation to get you as much money as possible and do as good a job as they can.
So if you or a loved one have been injured on the job here in New York and would like to set up a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who will fight for what you deserve, give me a call at 212-406-8989 today.
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