New York Workers’ Compensation Reform Efforts Continue

Workers’ compensation rates in New York were decreased for the first time this year since 2008. In July, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the lower workers’ compensation premiums as a final measure to implement reforms from a law passed in 2007. Earlier in 2012, other changes were also implemented from the 2007 workers’ compensation reforms including instituting treatment guidelines and benefit caps. The goal of these changes is to improve the New York workers’ compensation system for both employers and claimants.

Debate About Workers’ Comp Premiums

The Workers’ Compensation Reform Act became law in 2007, when New York’s workers’ compensation costs were 80 percent higher than the national average. Its goal was to increase weekly payout benefits for workers while also reducing insurance premiums for New York employers, saving state businesses $1 billion. The reform law also instituted a cap on cash benefits of 10 years for workers with permanent partial disabilities, and outlined further guidelines for medical treatment and reporting, among other key provisions.

Rates are also determined based on new policies, cost reduction measures and marketplace experience. Earlier in 2012, the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board suggested raising the workers’ compensation rates based on the state’s annual loss cost filing. The New York Department of Financial Services and Governor Cuomo’s administration disagreed, however, and rejected the rate increase after a review of written submissions and filings. Instead, the worker’s compensation rates are set to lower during 2013.

Impact of Reductions in Rates

Governor Cuomo’s administration reduced the workers’ compensation premium rates for the upcoming year by 1.2 percent, which was the first decrease since 2008. Governor Cuomo cited job creation, economic reform and businesses competitiveness as the main reasons for the rate reduction, as well as making the workers’ compensation system more effective for claimants and less expensive for employers. Labor leaders agree with the decreased premiums and reforms, stating they will avoid “an erosion of benefits through inflation.”

According to the Superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, the premium reductions and other reforms ultimately benefit all parties to the workers’ compensation system, including employers, employees and insurers. For workers, these reductions will hopefully help to ensure they are covered appropriately by their employers and, if a work injury does occur, that they receive the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve through a more efficient and effective process.

Third Party Claims: An Attorney Can Help

If you were recently injured during the course of your work duties contact a New York attorney for advice about how to proceed. In addition to pursuing workers’ compensation benefits, you may be able to pursue a third-party claim. These suits can be filed against negligent parties other than your employer like contractors and subcontractors. These claims are not monetarily limited like workers’ compensation benefits, so you may receive more funds than under a typical workers’ compensation claim. An attorney can provide further advice about potential claims based on your specific case.