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Workplace Accidents and Workers Compensation Defenses

In New York, a system of workers compensation exists to ensure that employees receive cash benefits and/or paid medical leave when they are injured on the job. Workers may be entitled to temporary or permanent, partial or total disability benefits, depending on the type of injuries sustained.

Generally, all an employee should have to do is to file a claim with the New York Workers Compensation Board, but employers are entitled to dispute such claims based on certain defenses, such as:

  • Employment status. Independent contractors may not be entitled to workers compensation, but do not be swayed by the term “contractor” alone. The test is to check for the degree of direction and control exerted by the employer over the worker’s day-to-day activities. The more control, the greater the chance an employer can be held liable for the on-the-job injury.
  • Scope of employment disputes. An employer may claim that you were not acting for the benefit of the business when you were injured. For example:
    • Horseplay or misconduct. You may not be entitled to compensation if you were fooling around with a coworker or engaged in a physical brawl at work. An employer may claim that you were not acting within the scope of employment and thus refuse to pay you benefits.
    • Frolic and detour. An employer may claim that you were engaged in a personal errand rather than a business activity when you were injured. For example, if you got hurt in an accident while on a trip to pick up supplies for the business but your supervisor did not authorize the trip to the store, an employer may dispute whether you have a compensable legal claim.
  • Failure to notify employer of injury. Once you become aware of a work-related injury, it is imperative to notify your employer of your injuries in writing within 30 days.

For more information about workers compensation benefits in New York, contact a knowledgeable lawyer.

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