What Workers’ Comp Benefits Can You Receive for a Traumatic Brain Injury?

MRI of the brain.

In workplace accidents, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur due to sudden external forces. These forces may manifest in two primary forms:

  • Closed TBIs. These injuries result from a blow, jolt, or shaking to the head.
  • Penetrating TBIs. These occur when an object or skull fragment enters the brain.

TBIs vary in severity from mild (concussions) to moderate and severe, with both physical and psychological effects.

If you’ve experienced a workplace head injury, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights, explore your potential options for compensation, and take the necessary steps to file a successful workers’ compensation claim.

Seeking prompt medical attention and legal advice is essential to ensure your well-being and protect your legal rights.

What is the financial impact of a traumatic brain injury?

The National Safety Council reports that head injuries, on average, account for the most costly long-term workers’ compensation claims. This includes:

  • Medical costs: an average of $60,722
  • Indemnity costs: an average of $33,563
  • Total costs: an average of $94,295

It’s important to note that these figures represent averages, and the actual financial impact can vary depending on the severity of the injury and other factors.

Again, if you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury in a work accident, it’s crucial to seek legal advice right away.

An attorney can help you understand your rights, navigate the workers’ compensation process, and pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries and related expenses. Contacting a work accident lawyer experienced in handling brain injury cases can make a meaningful difference in the outcome of your case.

How prevalent are workplace head injuries?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, head injuries made up 5.8% of all nonfatal work injuries in 2020.

Certain industries are more prone to workplace head injuries due to the nature of their work.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 2,210 construction workers died from TBIs on the job. This accounted for 2.6 injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers and 25% of all construction deaths.

These injuries often occur due to slip and falls, accidents with heavy machinery, or being struck by falling objects.

Common head injuries sustained in work accidents

In the workplace, accidents can result in various injuries to the head and brain. Some of the most common work-related head and brain injuries include:

  • Concussion and post-concussion syndrome
  • Head contusions
  • Skull fractures (depressed or compound)
  • Coup-contrecoup (multi-side contusions)
  • Intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding within the skull)
  • Diffuse axonal injury (damage to nerve fibers in the brain)
  • Penetrating head injuries (such as injuries from falling objects or sharp tools)
  • Anoxic Brain Injuries (oxygen deprivation)
  • Recurrent traumatic brain injuries (second impact syndrome)

These injuries can have significant implications for workers’ health and well-being, often requiring prompt medical attention and rehabilitation.

What are the symptoms of a work-related brain injury?

Following head injuries in work accidents, individuals may experience long-lasting consequences, such as:

  • Memory loss and other memory problems
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Impaired concentration and cognitive function
  • Sensory disturbances (such as vision or hearing problems)
  • Mood swings and emotional instability
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • Chronic pain, especially in the head or neck region

These long-lasting consequences can significantly impact a worker’s quality of life and ability to perform their job duties. Seeking appropriate medical care and support is crucial for managing these symptoms and facilitating recovery.

Does workers’ compensation pay for a work-related traumatic brain injury?

Workers’ compensation covers all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for a TBI if the injury occurred during work-related activities. This includes compensation for current and future medical visits, physical therapy, medical equipment, diagnostic tests, and necessary modifications to your home.

If you’re suffering from a work-related TBI, you may also qualify for:

  • Temporary total disability benefits if you’re completely unable to work.
  • Temporary partial disability benefits if you’re still working but earning less due to your injury.

Additionally, workers’ compensation may provide financial support for vocational rehabilitation services, such as job retraining or job placement assistance, to help you return to work or transition to a different role that accommodates your injury.

It’s essential to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you receive the full benefits you’re entitled to under the law. An attorney can advocate on your behalf, navigate the complex workers’ compensation system, and help you pursue the maximum compensation available for your work-related traumatic brain injury.

How do I file a workers’ compensation claim for a traumatic brain injury?

Filing a workers’ compensation claim for a head injury in the workplace can be overwhelming, but it’s required to secure the necessary benefits. To file a workers’ compensation claim in New York, follow these steps:

  • Report the injury: Inform your employer about the injury promptly. New York law mandates reporting within 30 days to qualify for benefits from the injury date. Include specific details such as the time, date, and location of the workplace accident that caused your head injury.
  • Seek medical attention: Get medical care immediately and inform your doctor that your head injury is work-related. This helps keep medical records consistent with your claim. Initially, you may need to consult a medical provider approved by your employer.
  • Initiate the claim process: You must fill out and submit Form C-3 to the New York Workers’ Compensation Board within two years to initiate your workers’ compensation claim. Your employer should report the injury to the board within 10 days of being notified.

Our New York workers’ compensation lawyers can fight for the best possible outcome for your claim

Any error in filing your workers’ compensation claim can result in your benefits getting delayed or denied. That’s why you need an experienced lawyer on your side who can ensure your claim is properly filed and all necessary documents are prepared for trial.

The legal team at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP has over 90 years of combined experience helping injured workers in New York get the compensation they deserve. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of New York workers’ compensation laws and regulations, allowing us to navigate the challenges of your case confidently.

We’ll work with you every step of the way to ensure that you’re treated fairly and advocate for maximum compensation. From gathering evidence and negotiating with insurance companies to representing you in hearings or trials, we’ll provide comprehensive legal support tailored to your unique needs.

To learn more about how we can help you, contact us online or call one of our New York law offices for a free consultation. Don’t wait – let us fight for your rights and help you secure the benefits you’re entitled to under the law.

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Warehouse Worker Safety: Advocates Push for $5M in New York State Budget

A warehouse worker puts a box up on a shelf.

Across New York, a movement spearheaded by various labor unions and worker advocacy groups is underway. Driven by alarming warehouse injury statistics, it aims to secure a $5 million allocation in the state’s upcoming fiscal year 2024-2025 budget. It seeks to enhance warehouse worker safety and address rampant negligence in this sector.

The New York workers’ compensation lawyers at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP applaud any efforts to improve working conditions for warehouse employees. If you were hurt on the job, we can help you explore your potential options for seeking compensation.

Warehouse worker safety advocates urge state lawmakers to act

Data indicates that warehouse employees in New York experience injury rates much higher than the state average. This has prompted urgent calls for legislative reform. Key players in this campaign include prominent labor organizations such as the Retail Wholesale & Department Store Union, New York Teamsters, and the Alliance for a Greater New York.

The organizations involved in this movement advocate for the implementation of stringent safety measures in warehouses across the state. This includes safer warehouse design, annual hazard assessments, and crucial repairs to mitigate injury risks.

Senate Labor Committee chair Jessica Ramos has sponsored the proposed legislation. She stresses the far-reaching consequences of workplace injuries.

“When a worker gets injured, it does not just destabilize their life, it ripples out to the lives of their communities and the people who depend on them,” said Ramos. “Mega-corporations like Amazon have been allowed to accumulate profit literally off the back of workers.”

Safety advocates highlighted the importance of this bill during a recent rally at the state Capitol. The above-mentioned groups organized the rally following the release of Governor Hochul’s executive budget proposal. This action highlights the growing concern over warehouse worker safety, particularly in Amazon facilities.

Data shows a staggering increase in workplace injury rates at Amazon facilities

Recent data from the National Employment Law Project reveals staggeringly high injury rates at Amazon warehouses. The data specifically focuses on New York State Amazon warehouses with over 500 employees. It paints a concerning picture of workplace safety in these environments.

This situation is not isolated to a single facility but is a state-wide issue. Several large Amazon warehouses have exhibited high injury rates and cases involving missed work or job transfers. For example, the facility in Schodack, with 922 employees, had the highest injury rate at 18.8 per 100 workers. This accounts for 165 worker injuries each year.

The Liverpool facility had the second-highest injury rate, with 11.1 injuries per 100 workers. That’s followed by the Staten Island facility with 7.2 injuries per 100 workers.

Holding facilities accountable for failure to promote warehouse worker safety

Advocates for the proposed bill argue that it’s crucial for holding employers accountable and preventing negligence. In turn, this could enhance warehouse worker safety. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, stresses the importance of prioritizing worker health and safety over corporate profits.

“Organizing workers in warehousing, we have seen first-hand what happens when employers prioritize the bottom line rather than workers’ lives. Warehouse workers are five times as likely to be injured on the job than workers in other private sector industries, and at Amazon warehouses it is even worse,” said Appelbaum.

Ramos added, “We want to give the Department of Labor the tools they need to make sure Amazon is a responsible employer, and the Warehouse Worker Injury Reduction Act is just the latest iteration of that effort.”

Injured in a warehouse facility? Our New York attorneys can fight for fair compensation

If you sustained an injury on the job in a warehouse, you could be out of work for an extensive period. Meanwhile, you may wonder where your next paycheck is going to come from or how you’ll pay for the cost of medical care. However, you may have plenty of options for getting the compensation you deserve, both in the short and long term.

Let our law firm walk you through the workers’ compensation claims process and advocate for your best interests. If you have any questions, we’ll provide honest answers during a free consultation. To get started, contact us online or call our law offices across NYC and New York State.

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BLS: Workplace Fatalities Spiked Nearly 6% in 2022

Construction worker wearing safety harness and safety line working on construction

Every day, workers across New York and the United States die on the job. Most of these deaths are due to workplace safety measures and hazardous work environments. In recent years, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP have seen a staggering number of workplace fatalities. That’s why our law firm is committed to helping injured workers and their families get the benefits they deserve.

How much have workplace fatalities increased in recent years?

In 2022, the U.S. witnessed a significant increase in workplace fatalities. This marked a concerning trend in occupational safety. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), released on December 19, there were 5,486 on-the-job deaths. This reflected a 5.7% rise compared to 2021.

This alarming figure has surpassed the 5,000 threshold for the sixth time in the past seven years, as recorded in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. The number of workplace fatalities is considerably higher than the 4,764 fatalities reported in 2020, which was the lowest since 4,585 deaths were documented in 2013. The period from 2009 to 2015 had consistently seen fatalities below 5,000.

The fatal work injury rate also showed an increase to 3.7 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers from 3.6 in 2021. Transportation incidents continue to be the leading cause of occupational deaths, accounting for 2,066 fatalities or 37.7% of the total workplace fatalities.

A particularly concerning trend is the rise in unintentional overdose deaths, which increased by 13.1% to 525 in 2022. This is up from 464 in 2021.

This data release is part of two annual reports by BLS, with the first report released on November 8, focusing on nonfatal injuries and illnesses among private-sector employees.

What is the frequency of workplace fatalities?

Additional insights from the BLS report include the frequency of workplace deaths. A worker succumbed to job-related injuries every 96 minutes in 2022, compared to every 101 minutes in 2021. The sectors most affected were transportation and material moving, with 1,620 fatalities. Construction and extraction were also highly affected, with 1,056 deaths.

The report also showed increased fatality rates among Black/African American workers (4.2 per 100,000 FTE) and Hispanic/Latino workers (4.6), up from 4.0 and 4.5, respectively, in 2021. Transportation incidents remained a major cause of death for these groups.

How can employers prevent worker deaths?

This continues a pattern of annual increases that began in 2012. In response, the National Safety Council is urging employers to take more preventive measures. They highlighted the importance of overdose and naloxone awareness. That includes access to naloxone in workplace first aid kits and adopting programs to prepare workplaces and employees for emergency life-saving situations.

What are my legal options if I lost a loved one in a workplace accident?

If your loved one was fatally injured on the job, you may be able to seek death benefits through the New York workers’ compensation system. These are ongoing payments made to the deceased worker’s dependents. This could include a spouse, children, or other family members who were financially dependent on the worker.

Workers’ compensation also covers reasonable funeral and burial costs up to a certain limit. It may also cover medical expenses incurred due to the injury or illness that led to your loved one’s death.

Filing a workers’ compensation claim in New York can be a very complex process. If you’re not sure where to begin, the attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP can help. Our experienced legal team understands the nuances of the New York workers’ compensation system. We can ensure that your paperwork is properly filled out and filed and that you obtain the compensation you’re rightfully entitled to under New York law.

We proudly serve clients in NYC and across New York State. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call one of our New York law offices.

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Cold Stress Prevention: Protecting Workers with Winter Gear and Training

NYC construction worker dressed in layers is ready for the cold.

Winter weather and cold temperatures can heighten the risks of working in New York, with cold stress being a lesser-known but potentially serious hazard. Cold stress happens when temperatures drop and the body has to work harder to maintain its normal level of warmth. When cold stress is not addressed, it can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, and other serious work injuries.

Protecting workers from the cold is critical

Precautions must be taken to ensure employees in construction, transportation, delivery, warehousing, maintenance, and other jobs can stay safe and maintain productivity when temperatures drop. This includes wearing appropriate head-to-toe winter gear, such as insulated clothing, gloves, and thermal footwear. Moreover, it’s essential to understand the cold’s impact on the body, including the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, and reduced dexterity, and to recognize the signs of heat loss in oneself and colleagues.

Additionally, regular safety training should be an integral part of any organization’s cold-weather preparedness strategy. This training should cover topics like the importance of proper clothing layering, staying dry, and keeping active to maintain body heat. By implementing these precautions and promoting a culture of safety, employers can reduce the risk of cold stress injuries and ensure a safe and productive working environment during the winter months.

5 ways the cold affects your body

When temperatures drop, it can almost feel like the cold is “attacking” you. There are five primary ways that cold lowers internal heat:

1. Radiation: When temperatures drop, exposed skin becomes a primary source of heat loss as it radiates body heat. Workers in cold environments often experience a rapid sensation of cold due to this radiation.

2. Convection: Wind, technically a form of convection, exacerbates the cold sensation, particularly on windy days. It does this by displacing the warm air layer near the skin, making workers feel even colder than the actual temperature suggests.

3. Conduction: Heat loss through conduction occurs when workers come into contact with colder objects, such as metal tools or cold surfaces. This direct contact can quickly drain body heat.

4. Evaporation: While insulation may keep workers warm, it can lead to an unexpected risk during winter. The body’s natural response to cold is to start sweating inside insulated gear. However, this can increase the risk of cold stress, as the body loses heat through the process of evaporation.

5. Respiration: Inhaling bitterly cold air can be distracting for workers, diverting their attention and putting them at risk of heat loss. Cold air entering the respiratory system can lower the body’s core temperature, making it challenging to stay warm.

How to dress when working in the cold

Staying safe and warm while working in cold conditions is a shared responsibility between employers and employees. Whether employers provide insulated uniforms or offer stipends for personal winter gear, these tips can help:

  • Tailored Insulation: Choose insulated workwear tailored to the specific environment. Workers with lower activity levels may need more insulation than those requiring greater flexibility to perform their tasks.
  • Cover Exposed Areas: Ensure no skin is left exposed. Protect the neck, ears, and face from cold, wetness, and wind to prevent frostbite and discomfort.
  • Layering Strategy: Embrace a layered clothing approach for flexibility. Include an inner layer to wick away sweat, a mid-layer for warmth, and an outer layer to shield against wind and wet conditions. Removing a layer when sweating can help workers stay dry and warm.
  • Proper Fit: Opt for clothing that fits properly to avoid bulkiness or restricted mobility, allowing workers to perform their tasks comfortably.
  • Hydration Matters: Prioritize hydration over caffeine to help the body operate efficiently, promoting maximum warmth and overall well-being.
  • Caloric Intake: Consume more calories by eating more or opting for higher-calorie foods. The body expends additional energy to maintain temperature in the cold, making sufficient caloric intake essential.
  • Recognize Cold Stress: If experiencing symptoms of cold stress, it’s crucial to exit the cold environment promptly. Recognizing these signs and taking appropriate action can prevent serious cold-related health issues.

Signs of cold stress on the job

Recognizing the signs of cold stress on the job is essential for the safety and well-being of workers. Familiarity with these indicators allows individuals to take prompt action to address the issue. If any of these signs are observed or experienced, seeking a warm environment is crucial. If symptoms persist or worsen, urgent medical attention should be sought. Here are the signs of cold stress:

  • Shivering: An initial response to cold stress, shivering is the body’s attempt to generate heat by rapid muscle contractions. It’s a clear signal that the body is struggling to maintain its temperature.
  • Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired or fatigued can be a sign of cold stress. The body expends extra energy to combat the cold, leading to increased weariness.
  • Confusion: Cold stress can affect cognitive function, resulting in confusion or mental fog. Workers may find it challenging to concentrate or make decisions.
  • Reduced Alertness or Delayed Reactions: Cold can slow down reflexes and reaction times, making it difficult to respond quickly to workplace hazards.
  • Limited Mobility: Extreme cold can cause muscles and joints to stiffen, limiting mobility and making movement more challenging.
  • Impaired Speech: Cold stress can affect speech patterns, leading to slurred or impaired speech.
  • Cold Sensations: Workers may experience cold, tingling, stinging, or aching sensations in exposed areas of the body, which can progress to numbness as the cold intensifies.
  • Skin Color Changes: Skin may become visibly white or pale due to reduced blood flow to the extremities, indicating that the body is prioritizing core temperature over extremities.

Cold stress can cause serious work-related injuries

While some employers may not take it seriously, cold stress is a significant concern that can lead to severe work-related injuries. At Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP in New York, we understand the gravity of cold stress and its potential impact on workers’ safety and well-being. Our team of dedicated work injury lawyers is here to advocate for those who have suffered cold-related injuries in the workplace.

We recognize that the consequences of cold stress can be debilitating, and our mission is to provide the legal support and representation needed to secure compensation for affected individuals. If you or a loved one has experienced work-related injuries due to cold stress, our experienced attorneys are ready to stand by your side and guide you through the legal process to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. To see how we can help with your potential legal case, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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Fighting For Your Benefits – Protecting Our Safety Net

As an attorney who has been practicing in the field of Workers’ Compensation for close to 30 years, it has been a privilege and an honor to represent the working men and women of New York. As the daughter of both a retired firefighter and retired teacher, I see the sacrifices that most working men and women make in order to provide for their families and create a better life for their children. We all have similar long-term goals of being able to earn enough of a nest egg to retire and enjoy our “golden years”.  No one goes to work expecting that they will sustain an injury that will not only change the course of their employment, but may change the course of their lives. Even less expected is the bureaucratic maze most will have to navigate for benefits to which they are entitled.

Injured workers in this country have seen their weekly benefits capped, their medical benefits slashed, and their medications limited based upon the opinions of those who may not even examine them but only review records. Injured workers have been the pawn in political battles throughout the country.  Benefits are seen as too expensive or excessive, and are described as the reason businesses cannot thrive or survive as premiums have become so expensive because of the high costs of claims. Injured workers are sometimes seen as “gaming the system” by fraudulently obtaining and keeping Workers’ Compensation benefits beyond their need. There could be nothing farther from the truth.

One of the things I am proud of in my legal career is that I am past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group (WILG), an organization of attorneys who have dedicated their practices to representing the needs of injured workers’ and their families. Our mission statement notes that “our members are committed to improving the quality of legal representation to those injured on the job or victims of occupational illness by superior legal education and my keeping informed of legislative and judicial proceedings”. We do this by keeping up with trends throughout the country that impact injured workers and might end up coming to the states in which we practice.

While injured workers rarely have the finances to take on some of the very wealthy and deep-pocketed business and insurance industry groups, our organization has found that in many instances we can fight back by having knowledge and knowing the facts. My colleague and another past president of WILG, Leonard Jernigan, has for the last decade or so put the perception of “gaming the system” to the test. In his most recent report, he notes that the top 10 cases of fraud resulted in almost $100 million in lost revenue and that not one of those cases involved the actual worker. This is not out of the ordinary. While there are those workers who clearly fabricate an injury or exaggerate its seriousness, they are in the minority. Most men and women do not want to be injured, nor do they want to stay out of work when they are. As the recent government shut down showed, there are many people in this country who live paycheck to paycheck. Any loss of income creates major financial hardship for injured workers and their families, not to mention the psychological impact created by the mere thought of losing their places of residence or their dreams for their future. We must remember that while injured workers in this country are a minority of the population, in the blink of an eye, we too can become a part of this very unfortunate club.


Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy  Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.

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Frostbite and Hypothermia: Dangers Of Working In Extreme Cold

Now that winter is officially upon us, let’s think about those workers who must brave the cold, wind, snow, and freezing rain as part of their daily work routine. They include postal workers, delivery personnel, construction workers, utility company employees, as well as firefighters, police officers, and sanitation workers.  I shiver when the news shows video of firefighters putting out a fire in the frigid temperatures as the wind blows back the water on them that immediately freezes. I cringe during record cold spells when I see police officers out in the elements protecting the public. 

These are just a few examples of what many men and women deal with as part of their workday. While most of us living in the northeast have experienced freezing temperatures while commuting or engaging in recreational outdoor activities or doing outdoor chores in our daily lives, it is generally for a finite period of time and while it certainly is uncomfortable, it is not usually life threatening.

Working in the cold can not only cause a reduction in job performance but can aggravate the risk of common hazards and increase the risk of injury. It is not just the outside temperature that must be taken into consideration, but the wind chill, which is what the temperature actually feels like when the wind is factored in. According to the Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) Administration, while there are no specific guidelines for working in cold environments, employers have a duty to protect workers from any hazards that could cause injury or death in the workplace. While it is left to the particular industry/employer to establish protocol, OSHA does recommend that employers train their employees to recognize the symptoms of cold stress, including hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia is dangerously low body temperature. Initial symptoms include shivering, followed by dizziness and disorientation. There may be loss of coordination that can be dangerous as it can lead to accidents and injuries. Eventually circulation starts to slow down and the heart stops, leading to death.    

Frostbite is caused by the freezing of the skin and tissue that can damage blood vessels, resulting in a lack of oxygen. Severe frostbite can result in gangrene that requires amputation, and can even lead to death. In both cases, it is recommended to get the person to a warm place and provide immediate medical attention.

Preventing hypothermia and frostbite before they happen should be a priority. According to the National Safety Council, it is important to dress in layers and wear proper footwear to keep body heat trapped inside your clothes. Your outerwear should be wind- and water-proof to keep you dry. As the head and neck lose heat faster than any other part of the body, and your cheeks, ears, and nose are the most prone to frostbite, you should wear a hat, scarf, and turtleneck to protect these areas. Drink plenty of fluids to fuel your body and keep you warm, and eat foods with carbohydrates to give you quick energy. 

While there is very little we can do about the weather, there is plenty we can do to protect ourselves from the negative effects on our bodies. Knowing the warning signs and what to if you or a coworker starts showing symptoms can help save a life.


Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy  Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.

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What To Do When You Get Hurt At Work

As an attorney who has practiced in the field of Workers’ Compensation for more than 28 years, I have seen many changes in how the system treats injured workers.  During this age of progressiveness in New York, when the minimum wage has increased and the requirement for paid sick leave has been implemented, it only stands to reason that injured workers would be treated with dignity during their quest to obtain monetary benefits for their lost time and obtain the medical treatment necessary during their recovery. 

Unfortunately, however, there has been a nationwide focus on Workers’ Compensation reform with the emphasis on cost savings, often at the expense of the injured worker.  New York State has followed along in this national trend; therefore, it is even more imperative to know what to do in the event of a work-related injury or illness.  Injured workers must notify their employer immediately – preferably in writing if possible – within 30 days and file their claim with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board within two years of the date of an accident or onset of an illness.     

Additionally, finding the right doctor is one of the most important decisions you can make during this particularly rough time. After you are injured, you obviously must seek immediate medical attention before you do anything else. Don’t wait or assume your injury is going to heal, because if you are unable to work, benefits will not be payable until the date of the first medical treatment. You might need to go to the hospital if your injury is an emergency or life threatening, but in most cases you should be able to visit your physician. Either way, be sure you notify the medical professional that you are being treated for a work-related injury as any treatment should be billed through Workers’ Compensation.  It is important that your treating physician be coded to practice before the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board because of the medical evidence necessary to proceed with a claim, the myriad of forms they are required to file, and the possibility of their testimony in the future.  

The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board has implemented medical treatment guidelines for injuries to the back, neck, shoulder, knees, and bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Medical providers must comply with these guidelines in their treatment of injured workers, which have a number of treatments or tests that are preauthorized based upon certain findings. If the modality of treatment is not included in the guidelines, a variance may be requested. There are different forms for different requests and different timelines in which to file. A doctor not coded in Workers’ Compensation or inexperienced in this procedure could prevent you from receiving proper or timely treatment. 

Payments made for lost time are based upon the earnings of the injured worker, as well as the overall degree of disability. The degree of disability is based upon the medical evidence submitted by the injured worker’s treating doctor, as well as the opinion of the insurance company’s consultant. Many times these opinions are at odds and medical testimony is necessary so the law judge can make an informed decision. Doctors who are coded understand the procedure and the necessity of being available to testify on your behalf at these medical depositions. The insurance carrier will question the doctor on whether he or she is coded, which may impact the judge’s perception as to a doctor’s credibility regarding treatment guidelines, degree of disability, or earning capacity. Ultimately, the length of time and the amount of weekly benefits an injured worker is entitled to receive benefits once permanency is determined by a law judge is based on a finding of loss of earning capacity. In many cases, there can be a difference in years. 

Nothing is better than finding a doctor who is competent, empathetic, and an expert in his area of specialty, but finding one with all of these qualities who is also knowledgeable in Workers’ Compensation is invaluable. 


Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.



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MTA Workers Face Dangerous Conditions

For many of us who live in and work around New York City, taking public transportation is part the routine of our daily lives. According to the MTA’s official website, they are the largest public transportation network in the country, serving more than 15 million riders on the subways, buses, and Long Island Railroad, and they employ more than 73,000* people.   

Most of the time, our commutes are uneventful. However, we all have our own transportation horror stories to tell — trains arriving hours late or breaking down, rail lines closed for repairs or emergencies, air conditioning not working, or being in the company of an unruly, drunk, or perhaps mentally unstable individual. As commuters we expect to arrive at our destinations on time and safely. As employees, you expect to perform your duties safely and without threat of harm.

Unfortunately for many MTA employees, this is not the case. My office has handled hundreds of cases regarding injuries that occurred within the transportation system. Subway conductors and bus operators, mechanics, token booth clerks, cleaners, and track equipment maintainers are all MTA jobs that are necessary to move millions of riders each year. These MTA workers are typically represented by the Transit Workers Union Local 100, which regularly gets reports of their injured employees. Yet, while the union knows that workplace injuries are the unfortunate part of the job, the general public often does not realize the extent of just how dangerous an MTA job can actually be.

There are so many instances of workers being injured or even killed that have made the news. In March, a track worker who was making repairs died when he fell 9 feet onto the tracks. Some accidents are caused by slipping and falling on the tracks, others by lifting heavy equipment or as a result of sitting long hours in a fixed position. Some work-related injuries occur because of unsafe work conditions. Some occur in the absence of fault. Unfortunately, there seems to be a rising trend of injuries occurring when workers find themselves in the line of fire from riders.

Recently there were a string of pepper spray attacks on bus drivers. Two occurred in Brooklyn on the same day, with more following just a few days later. Thankfully the drivers suffered only minor injuries. In June, a conductor in Brooklyn was attacked, and a month later another was attacked in Queens. In August, video was released of a subway conductor being punched by an angry couple upset that their train schedule was changed.

And if all of these incidents were not bad enough, sadly, three Transit workers died this year from illnesses contracted working at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks in 2001.  

The increase in attacks on transit workers is outrageous and in a rare display of solidarity, both the Transit Workers Union and the MTA have united in their efforts to put an end to the attacks on workers.   While riding public transportation is getting more and more frustrating, the answer is not to attack the working men and women who work for the transit system. The majority of time something has gone wrong, it’s not their fault. Everyone, no matter what industry they work in, expects and deserves to have a safe work space free from assaults and injuries.

*2017 statistics from the official MTA website.


Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.




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