This Guidebook is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice (or create an attorney-client relationship with WNYCOSH).
The Workers Compensation System was established to compensate injured workers for medical treatment, lost wages, or death due to workplace injury or occupational disease. Employers are required to purchase workers’ comp insurance for their employees. Comp coverage is available regardless of the “fault” of the worker or the employer.
Independent contractors. You are an independent contractor if you direct your own work, are free to provide similar services to other clients, work on an assignment or temporary basis, are responsible for independent business functions such as paying your business expenses, etc.
If your boss tells you when, where, and how to perform your duties you are an employee, even if you receive a 1099 and your employer says you are an independent contractor.
If you think you have been misclassified, call WNYCOSH for assistance, (716) 833-5416.
Injuries where the injured worker intended to harm themselves or another worker.
Injuries caused solely by the intoxication of the injured worker.
You should see a doctor as soon as possible after you are injured. You have the right to choose your own medical provider, as long as he or she is an authorized Workers’ Comp provider.
To find an authorized provider:
You can call (877) 632-4996 for help finding an authorized provider. You can request a language interpreter when an agent comes on the line.
To be eligible for Workers’ Comp, you MUST file Form C-3 within 2 years of your injury, or of realizing your illness is work-related.
For help filing your Form C-3, you can call the Advocate for Injured Workers at (877) 632-4996. You can request an interpreter when you call.
You can call the WNYCOSH Worker Center Hotline for help filling out your C-3. (716) 206-3550 for language assistance in completing your C-3.
Workers’ Comp Benefits
Workers’ Comp provides medical coverage for injuries that occurred at work.
Occupational Hearing Loss
If you worked in a noisy workplace and suffered hearing loss you may be entitled to “loss of hearing award.” There are a few things to consider:
Sometimes your job can make you sick. The materials you work with, or the environment you work in can cause diseases including lung diseases or musculoskeletal problems like repetitive stress injuries. Sometimes these problems only appear over time. You have a right to medical treatment for occupational disease, just as for other injuries, and you must file a claim for occupational disease within 2 years of realizing your disease is connected to your employment.
Use Form C-3 to file your claim.
Sometimes workers are killed due to unsafe working conditions.
Workers’ Comp death benefits include:
See the WNYCOSH Family Resource Guide in 14 languages for more information.
Wage Replacement (Lost Wages)
Labor Market Attachment
Labor Market Attachment means looking for work or actively training for work.
Hold on to these Records:
Employers are not required to file a comp claim until they spend at least $1,000 on an injury or illness. Even if your employer offers to pay for your medical expenses outside the Workers’ Comp system, you can still file a claim with the Workers’ Comp Board by submitting a C-3, in order to protect against any unexpected circumstances related to your injury or illness. If you don’t file a claim within two years you will lose the ability to have your claim covered in most cases.
You have the right to language interpretation and translation
You have the right to legal representation
You have a right to an attorney or licensed representative to help you in this process. You should not pay the attorney or licensed representative directly. If you receive a Workers’ Comp award, the attorney’s fees will come out of your award.
Call (800) 342-3661 or go to the Erie County Bar Association referral service, to find a Workers’ Comp attorney near you.
Your employer’s insurer will begin paying for your medical costs and lost wages after confirming your average weekly wage.
A settlement is one-time, lump-sum payment in place of ongoing medical and wage benefits.
You should discuss your need for future medical care with your doctor before accepting a settlement.
You should consult with a lawyer or licensed representative before accepting a settlement.
A Workers’ Compensation Law Judge will hold a hearing and decide if you are eligible, and the amount of your award, if you are eligible.
You should attend the hearing, and provide all documents requested.
If your claim is denied, you have a right to appeal the decision.
Your employer can also appeal a judge’s decision.
Reasons Claims are Disputed:
• Your employer may say your injury or illness occurred from before you worked for them.
• Your employer may say you are not an employee (they might say you are an independent contractor).
• Your employer may say the injury did not happen “in the course of employment.” i.e. that the injury or illness occurred outside of work.
Your employer cannot fire you or retaliate against you for filing a Workers’ Comp claim.
WNYCOSH can help you if you have problems with the Workers’ Comp process. Call the WNYCOSH Worker Center Hotline at (716) 206-3550.
This guide was developed by Genevieve Rados, 2018 Frank Dolce Activist Fellow
Thank you to the following for their support: