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How Workers' Comp Covers Medical Bills for a Work Injury in Brooklyn, NY

Offered by Pasternack, Tilker, Ziegler, Walsh, Stanton & Romano LLP

With a population of nearly 3 million, Brooklyn sees its share of work injuries every day. The New York workers' compensation system covers the full cost of medical care for an on-the-job injury. However, navigating the system can be difficult, especially if you've never filed a workers' compensation claim before. An experienced Brooklyn workers' compensation lawyer can make a significant difference.

In New York, you can choose your own doctor for a work injury

Brooklyn workers have many choices for medical care. The borough has over a dozen hospitals, including Brooklyn Hospital Center, Interfaith Medical Center, Kings County Hospital Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and more, plus countless urgent care centers, clinics, and physicians in private practice.

Fortunately, the law allows Brooklyn workers to take full advantage of their treatment options. Unlike many other states, New York allows injured workers to choose any doctor authorized by the New York State Workers' Compensation Board (NYSWCB) to treat their injuries. Neither the employer nor the workers' compensation insurance company can require the injured worker to see a specific doctor or choose from a list of doctors.

You can search for authorized healthcare providers on the NYSWCB website. If you are unhappy with your treatment, you can change doctors at any time.

There is one exception: if the workers' compensation insurance company has a preferred provider organization (PPO), you must see a doctor in the PPO for the first 30 days after the injury. Again, you are free to choose any doctor within the PPO and switch to another doctor in the PPO at any time. After 30 days, you are free to see any authorized physician, whether inside or outside the PPO.

You may be required to attend an independent medical examination

While the insurance company does not control your choice of treating doctor, they can require you to attend an independent medical examination. This is an examination performed by a healthcare provider known as an Independent Medical Examiner (IME) to verify and possibly dispute your injuries. If you refuse to attend the IME, the insurance company may deny your workers' compensation claim.

Like treating physicians, IMEs must be authorized by the Workers' Compensation Board.

Although the IME is nominally "independent," it's important to remember that they are hired by the insurance company and have a financial incentive to give an opinion favorable to the insurance company, which may include downplaying the extent of an injury or disputing whether treatment is necessary.

Brooklyn workers do have certain legal protections in the IME process, including:

  • The right to at least eight days' notice of the IME.
  • The right to a reasonably convenient location.
  • The right to be mailed a report within 10 days – and it must be mailed to both the injured worker and the insurance company at the same time.
  • The right to bring a witness to the exam.
  • The right to have the exam recorded (audio or video).

An experienced Brooklyn workers' compensation lawyer can help you navigate the IME process and advocate for your rights.

Workers' compensation covers the full cost of your medical bills

Under New York law, workers' compensation pays for the full cost of reasonable and necessary medical treatment for a work injury. That includes all types of treatment, such as doctor's appointments, surgery, medication, physical and occupational therapy, medical devices, and other costs. Workers' comp covers all of your medical bills for a work injury: there are no co-pays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket expenses, and if you do end up paying something out of pocket, it should be reimbursed.

Unfortunately, there is often debate about whether medical treatment or medication is truly "reasonable and necessary" for a given work injury. The insurance company may also dispute whether a particular injury is work-related or pre-existing. Those disputes may require a hearing or even an appeal to be fully resolved. In theory, workers' compensation is supposed to pay for the full cost of medical treatment, but the reality can be much more complex. This is why injured workers need experienced legal representation.

The right Brooklyn workers' compensation attorney can make a significant difference

In New York, if you're hurt at work, your medical expenses should be covered, regardless of fault for the injury. A workers' compensation attorney can help you exercise your rights by filing your claim, advocating for the treatment you need, and representing you in hearings and appeals if necessary. Attorneys who understand the system and have experience representing injured workers can help you move through the process and make a significant difference in the outcome of your claim.

In short, if you've been hurt on the job in Brooklyn, the way to make sure your medical bills are paid is to talk to an experienced workers' compensation lawyer about your claim. Remember, time is of the essence since evidence can disappear quickly, and the workers' compensation system has strict legal deadlines. Schedule your free consultation today.

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For over 90 years, Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP has been fighting for injured New Yorkers in workers’ compensation and personal injury matters. We’ve reco...