It is now more difficult to obtain benefits when you are injured on the job in New York! The New York Workers Compensation Board passed highly controversial regulations today. (Press Release) With the noble intent of speeding up the process of obtaining benefits when a New York Workers Compensation Case is disputed, the New York Workers Compensation Board adopted the "Streamlined Docket" (Rocket Docket) regulations that will, unfortunately, only delay and confuse the adjudication of contested claims before the Agency.
What is even more disheartening is that numerous advocates on behalf of injured workers provided appropriate and timely objections to these poorly constructed and cumbersome regulations. The Injured Workers Bar Association, the Workers Compensation Alliance, the Workplace Injury and Litigation Group, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, and various local Bar Associations and Medical Groups all provided substantial and well reasoned objections to these ill conceived agency regulations. In fact, the Workers Compensation Board itself provided some of the most compelling proof. It recently noted that resolution of disputed claims within ninety days (as required in the 2007 Workers Compensation Law Reforms) was accomplished in 88% of all disputed cases by enforcing current laws and regulations.
However, Chiarman Zachary Weiss and the Workers Compensation Board decided that complicated new regulations were needed. Regulations that are in contradiction to the letter of the law and current case law. Why? I truly do not know and can only begin to fathom how a new regulatory scheme will mire the entire system in litigation that will only slow down and injury the most vulnerable party in the process, the injured worker.
I will personally continue the fight and know that the above noted Associations will do the same. Perhaps an Article 78 proceeding, perhaps continued pressure on the legislature, the Governor and the WCB! Injured workers deserve better, and a small increase in weekly rates (from the 2007 Reforms) is no trade off for making it more difficult to collects those benefits! Stay tuned….