Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

State proposes changes to workers' compensation system

In some industries, the fear of being injured in the workplace is always present. Most New Yorkers are aware that they may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits in the event that they are injured on the job. However, the burdensome process thrust upon those seeking these benefits sometimes deters them from pursuing the process to the fullest extent. This is unfortunate, as it can leave an injured worker without the money he or she needs to cover medical expenses and lost wages while he or she focuses on reclaiming his or her health and returning to work.

The state's legislature has taken notice of some of the flaws in the workers' compensation system and is working to fix them. The state's Workers' Compensation Board recently proposed increasing payments made to medical professionals who provide care for injured workers, which may make medical treatment for these injured individuals more readily available. Additionally, the state's Board has discussed reducing the number of forms involved in the process to make it easier for all involved.

Another proposal made was for the creation of a medical portal. It is hoped that this portal will allow medical professionals to more easily identify whether a prescribed course of treatment is in line with recommended treatment guidelines identified by the Board. Also in the proposal is an expansion of professionals who are able to provide care under the workers' compensation system.

As it stands now, only physicians, chiropractors, psychologists and podiatrists can be utilized to treat these work-related injuries. By expanding field of professionals able to treat these workers, the state may make it much easier for injured workers to secure immediate treatment that is tailored to their specific needs.

Until these proposals pass, though, injured workers will need to continue to navigate the system as it is. Although it may seem cumbersome, a positive outcome can be life-changing for those struggling to get by in the aftermath of their injury. The process can be fraught with legal challenges, which is why it is advisable to discuss one's situation with a qualified legal professional before proceeding with a claim.

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