Workers’ compensation law mandates insurance coverage for on-the-job injuries.
The process for filing a workers’ comp claim varies from state to state, but nearly always involves an employer, the injured employee, an insurance provider, and medical professionals.
Workers’ comp claims can include:
- Aggravation of pre-existing conditions
- Injuries sustained on company property or at a company-sponsored activity
- Injuries caused by company-owned assets, like mechanical equipment
More serious cases include diseases caused by exposure to hazards, such as benzene, asbestos or silica dust. While mesothelioma is one extreme example of this, a more common example is rashes brought on by exposure to cleaning chemicals or gasoline.
Workers’ compensation typically doesn’t cover injuries resulting from horseplay at work, or injuries sustained while drunk or in an impaired state. Likewise, only a few states provide coverage for employees injured while travelling to and from work, unless that transportation is provided by the employer.
The vast majority of workers’ compensation cases are streamlined, and only involve filing a claim with the workers’comp insurance carrier. But there are times when it’s necessary to hire a attorney due to coverage limits or denial of benefits.
An issue in all states concerns the plight of temporary workers. Temp workers usually are treated as second-class citizens regarding their rights to training, safety measures and the collection of worker compensation benefits. Temp workers in New York City are often in the nonunion sector where workers are injured more often due to a lack of training and lesser safety protections.
The problem is that temp workers are not employed by the company where they are sent to work. The worker actually remains an employee of the employment agency. Thus, workers’ compensation premiums and unemployment compensation are paid for and managed by the temp agency.
There is a basic disconnect in such a system. At work, the temp worker is not viewed as an employee of the company and is not given training necessary to foster a stronger safety net and more proactive self-protections by the worker. This fact, documented by many studies, results in a higher percentage of work accidents to temporary workers.
The temporary workers are protected by the workers’ compensation system. This insurance coverage is purchased by the temp agency to cover its temp workers for accidents suffered while working at a temp assignment. A higher percentage of claims filed by temp workers are denied by the workers’ compensation insurance carriers. This may be due to a lesser sense of responsibility felt by insurers toward workers who may be there one day and gone the next.
New York City struggles with temporary worker problems similar to what is found in other population centers. In areas with a prevalence of industrial plants, factories, construction sites and warehouses, there will be a higher number of temp workers. Temp workers should complain to the employment agency when they are exposed to unsafe conditions or not given training. When the temp worker is given the “run around” about filing a workers’ compensation claim form, that is the sign to immediately obtain a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to assure protection of one’s legal rights.