Author Archives: Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP

New York Increases Maximum Weekly Workers’ Comp Benefit

Woman with blue arm cast talks on the phone while sitting at a laptop computer.

Rising wages lead to rising benefits for injured workers

Last month, the New York Workers’ Compensation Board announced an increase in the maximum weekly benefit rate for workers’ compensation claims, effective July 1, 2024. The new weekly maximum will be $1,171.46.

This change will not affect current claims, but it will increase the maximum benefit for workers who are injured between July 1 of this year and June 30 of next year. This is a welcome increase for injured workers in light of the ever-increasing cost of living in New York and throughout the nation.

How the maximum weekly benefit is calculated

The New York workers’ compensation statute establishes a formula to calculate the maximum weekly benefit. The maximum is set as two-thirds of the state average weekly wage (SAWW) for the previous year, as determined by the New York State Department of Labor.

For 2023, the Department of Labor determined that the state average weekly wage was $1,757.19. Two-thirds of that number is $1,171.46.

How weekly benefits are calculated for injured workers

Workers’ compensation benefits for time lost due to a work injury (temporary total disability) are calculated based on the injured worker’s own average weekly wage (AWW). Usually, your AWW is based on your cumulative earnings for the previous 12 months, including bonuses, overtime, and other compensation for your job. However, there are various scenarios that can affect the AWW, including:

  • If you have only worked at the job for a short time, your employer should provide the wage information of a similarly situated worker (someone with the same or similar job title and salary who works at the same or an adjacent location).
  • If there is no similarly situated worker (for instance, if you are in a newly created position), then your employer should provide whatever salary information they can for the Workers’ Compensation Board to make a determination.
  • If you work for more than one employer (dual or concurrent employment), you may be allowed to add your wages together to calculate your AWW.
  • If you are under age 25, you may be entitled to wage expectancy consideration as your AWW is calculated.

The weekly benefit is two-thirds of your AWW, subject to the statewide maximum. What this means, in effect, is that if your AWW is less than the statewide average, you get two-thirds of your average weekly wage, and if your AWW is greater than or equal to the statewide average, you get the maximum benefit.

If your AWW is disputed, we will protect your rights

In short, while “two-thirds of your average weekly wage” might seem simple, the way workers’ compensation benefits are calculated can be surprisingly complex, and the weekly benefit is, of course, just one aspect of your claim. If your workers’ compensation claim is denied or disputed, our attorneys can put their extensive experience to work for you. Contact us online or give us a call today for a free consultation with Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP.

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Attorney Advertising.

Workers’ Memorial Day To Be Observed On April 28

Graphic with the words "Workers’ Memorial Day. April 28."

While Memorial Day in May is widely recognized, there’s another important commemoration that often goes unnoticed: Workers’ Memorial Day. Observed in April, this day serves as a poignant reminder of the workers who have lost their lives to work-related injuries or illnesses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Workers’ Memorial Day honors those who have tragically died on the job and “encourages us to think of ways in which we all can help to achieve the goal of safer and healthier workplaces.”

Our New York workers’ compensation attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP explain the significance of this annual event and the importance of seeking legal help if you were injured while on the job.

If you’ve suffered a work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Seeking guidance from an experienced work injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and pursue the full extent of compensation you deserve.

What is Workers’ Memorial Day?

In 1970, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) created Workers’ Memorial Day. At that time, an estimated 38 people each day died as a result of work-related illnesses or accidents, according to a U.S. Department of Labor. That’s more than 13,870 work-related fatalities each year, on average.

Have work-related fatalities gone down since 1970?

The good news is that workplace deaths have decreased nationwide since 1970. In 2022, a total of 5,486 people died in work-related accidents, according to the most recent workplace fatality data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

However, compared to more recent years, that figure is worse. For example, the year before, 5,190 people died in work-related accidents in 2021. The year before that, there were only 4,764 workplace fatalities nationwide, according to BLS data.

What are the most common causes of workplace fatalities?

Based on workplace accident data compiled by the BLS and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), some of the most common causes of workplace fatalities continue to include:

  • Work-related transportation accidents, which account for more than 2,100 workplace fatalities each year, on average.
  • Slip, trip and fall accidents, which account for more than 800 workplace deaths per year.
  • Exposure to harmful substances, which result in more than 800 deaths per year.
  • Being struck by an object or equipment at work, which accounts for more than 700 annual deaths.
  • Violence at work, which results in more than 800 deaths per year, on average.

“While significant progress has occurred since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (in 1970), much more remains to be made,” the CDC said in a recent announcement about the annual Workers’ Memorial Day event.

Protecting the rights of injured workers in NY for over 90 years.

Dealing with a serious work-related injury or illness in New York can be complicated. In most cases, you should be eligible to receive workers’ workers’ compensation benefits if you get sick or hurt at work. However, obtaining the benefits you rightfully deserve can often be much more difficult than you might expect.

Our New York City workers’ compensation attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP can help you every step of the way. Our highly skilled legal team has decades of experience handling complicated workers’ compensation claims throughout New York and has recovered over $1 billion in awards and settlements for our clients.

Get the law firm that gets results for injured New Yorkers. Contact us and schedule an appointment with a workers’ compensation lawyer who will put your best interests first. We have 12 offices conveniently located in New York, including five offices in New York City.

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Attorney Advertising.

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.

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Attorney Advertising.

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.

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Attorney Advertising.

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.

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Attorney Advertising.

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.

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Attorney Advertising.