HARD AT WORK HELPING OUR CLIENTS – AND KEEPING YOU INFORMED
New York State may have issued a “PAUSE” order, but our office never missed a beat helping our clients and providing information to them, the public, and policy-makers.
When the New York State courts closed, our personal injury attorneys and staff reviewed every client file and put each case in the best position to move forward when the courts reopened. As the Workers’ Compensation Board continued to hold hearings “virtually” over the past four months, our attorneys have represented hundreds of clients before the Board and our staff have answered thousands of phone calls and emails about benefits and medical treatment. When the Social Security Administration continued to process claims for disability benefits, we continued to collect medical records, prepare legal arguments for ALJs, and obtain favorable decisions for our clients.
Beyond that, we have continued to lecture (by Zoom) for bar associations, labor unions, and other groups while also publishing a steady stream of articles to keep people informed about COVID-19 and how it has affected our practice areas of personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability benefits. In case you missed it, here’s an index of our recent articles – they can all be found on our web site at www.GreyAndGrey.com/blog.
March 6 – Coronavirus and Workers’ Compensation. Our firm was among the first to realize that the workers’ compensation system would have an important role to play in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and on March 6 – two weeks before the New York State PAUSE order – we had already issued a paper outlining some of the potential issues surrounding workers’ compensation coverage for the virus.
April 7 – Essential Workers With COVID-19 File for Workers’ Comp. The state’s PAUSE order created two classes of New York workers: “essential” and “non-essential.” This had a significant impact on potential coverage, and we wrote about it immediately.
April 13 – Court Closures During the Pandemic. Many of our clients were understandably concerned about the impact of New York State’s court closures on their personal injury cases, so we posted the latest updates to keep them informed.
April 16 – Social Security Update. Those who fell seriously ill because of COVID-19 faced real concerns about when – and whether – they would be able to return to work. We made sure to post an article outlining the criteria for Social Security Disability eligibility.
April 17 – Our Op Ed in the Daily News. By mid-April, it appeared that some New York State officials were trying to “pass the buck” to the federal government for COVID-19 – potentially delaying, reducing, or denying workers’ compensation benefits to sick workers. We responded by publishing an Op Ed in the New York Daily News calling on the government to “do the right thing.”
April 23 – How to Avoid Common Mistakes After an On-the-Job Injury. The fact that so many workers were confused about their rights if they fell ill with COVID-19 told us that more information was needed about what NOT to do after a work-related injury – so we wrote an article about it.
April 27 – Telemedicine. During the PAUSE order, most of our clients were not able to see their doctor in person either because the doctor’s office was closed or because they were concerned about possible exposure. In late April, the Workers’ Compensation Board finally approved “telemedicine,” allowing injured workers to have telephone or videoconference medical appointments. We immediately informed our clients about this important development.
April 29 – Personal Protective Equipment. As essential workers continued to fall ill, it became clear that many employers were not providing adequate PPE – and that this would also be an issue for “non-essential” workers when reopening began. We wrote an article about the issue to inform workers and public officials about the importance of proper PPE during the pandemic.
May 11 – Momentum Grows. By mid-May, New York State had still not enacted a “presumption” bill guaranteeing that essential workers who fell ill from COVID-19 would be protected by the workers’ compensation system. But momentum was growing, driven in part by many other states that had enacted presumption bills.
May 14 – Is My Check Late? Some of our clients suffered interruptions in their workers’ compensation payment schedules as employers and insurers paid ahead (to avoid late payments) or missed payments (due to operational issues). We thought it was important for our clients to understand the rules about what is – and isn’t – a late payment under the Workers’ Compensation Law.
May 18 – Social Security Disability. As the pandemic reached its second month, we returned to the issue of Social Security Disability benefits to make sure that our clients and others were aware of this important piece of the social safety net.
May 21 – Occupational Hearing Loss. Work-related hearing loss is a unique type of workers’ compensation claim, covered by its own article in the law and having a special set of rules. One of those rules is that a worker must be out of the noisy workplace for three months before filing a claim. We thought that late May, when many workers were approaching three months out of work, was a good time to write about this topic.
May 28 – Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. When reviewing client files during the state court shutdown, our personal injury attorneys noticed that too many of our clients did not have enough – or the right kind – of auto insurance to protect themselves and their families in the event of a serious motor vehicle accident. So they wrote an article to highlight this valuable piece of information.
June 2 – New York’s Workers’ Compensation System Must Cover Essential Workers. In early June, frustrated by New York’s failure to respond to the pandemic by assuring essential workers that they would be protected by the workers’ compensation system if they fell ill from COVID-19, we published another Op Ed (this time in Newsday) calling for action.
June 8 – Workers’ Compensation Board Moves to Cover Essential Workers. Almost immediately after our second editorial was published (along with an article in the New York Law Journal), the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board finally responded by publishing a “Q&A” in which it indicated that it would provide broad coverage for healthcare workers and essential workers with COVID-19.
June 11 – Medical Treatment Guidelines. In light of the Board’s indication that it would provide workers’ compensation coverage for COVID-19, and with reopening on the horizon, we turned our attention to “regular” workers’ compensation issues – starting with the Board’s issuance of new Medical Treatment Guidelines.
June 18 – Landmark Victories on Schedule Loss of Use. In mid-June, we wrote about a series of landmark victories we had won in a years-long battle against the Workers’ Compensation Board to make sure that workers with permanent limb injuries were properly compensated. The Board had taken the position that an injury to a neck or a back for which no compensation was awarded also meant that no compensation could be awarded for the loss of use of an arm, leg, hand or foot. Although the Court had ruled against the Board in 2018 in one of our cases, the Board continued to follow this misguided policy until 2020, when the Court ruled against it in three more of our cases. Soon thereafter, the Board posted an official notice that it would comply with the law and make proper awards to injured workers.
June 23 – Another Landmark Victory. We also won a victory in the Court against another misguided Board policy – the idea that a permanently partially disabled worker could not have a change in condition and become temporarily totally disabled or seek “reclassification” at a greater level of disability. The Court rejected the Board’s position in the strongest terms, assuring that permanently disabled workers would retain access to the system and could pursue claims for reopening, change in condition, and increased benefits where appropriate.
June 25 – Schedule Loss Awards. In view of our landmark victories on the issue of schedule loss, we thought it was important to follow up with an explanation of how schedule loss awards are calculated in the workers’ compensation system.
June 29 – Reimbursement for Travel Expenses. Injured workers are entitled to reimbursement for “out of pocket” expenses in a workers’ compensation case, including travel to and from doctors, therapists, and insurance company “IMEs.” With the state reopening and clients beginning to return to in-person medical appointments, we wrote a roadmap to help them get proper reimbursement for their expenses.
July 6, 2020 – Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation? Before the pandemic, the status of workers in the “gig economy” was a hot topic for the Legislature and the legal system, and it was widely expected that laws would be passed to provide them with workers’ compensation coverage. The issue became even more relevant during the pandemic with sharp increases in deliveries from restaurants and other businesses. We wrote an article outlining the current state of the law to inform workers and employers about their rights and obligations – and to provide policymakers with a starting point to work from when they return to this important issue.
July 10, 2020 – New Rules Reduce Access to Social Security Disability Benefits. Recent decisions from the Social Security Administration and the federal courts highlighted new policies that are designed to prevent disabled workers from obtaining benefits. We wrote about those issues and the increased challenges our Social Security disability clients face.