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Employers' responsibilities for workers' compensation

Many New Yorkers can go their entire career without suffering a serious on-the-job injury. But a number will. For these individuals, the experience can be scary. Not only have they suffered an on-the-job injury that will prevent them from working for a time -- which is scary enough -- but now they have to figure out how to make ends meet while not working and having to pay for medical expenses. Fortunately, workers' compensation will generally step into the void and help.

What is an employer's responsibility under workers' compensation law? It depends. Most companies must buy workers' compensation insurance for its workers. Typically the employer will need to do so via an insurance carrier. But sometimes larger companies will be allowed to self-insure. Meanwhile, tiny companies -- generally those with only an employee or two -- may not need to carry workers' compensation insurance at all.

What else must an employer do? In addition to carrying coverage, employers must do a variety of other things. They must post a compliance notice at each job site in a conspicuous place. They must provide immediate emergency medical treatment for employers hurt on the job. They must also complete reports for a number of situations. If someone is injured, the company must complete injury reports and submit them to the nearest office of the workers' compensation board. If an injury causes lost time beyond the shift the accident took place on, they need to fill out another written report. And if the board asks for further information, the company must provide it.

What happens if an employer was obligated to carry workers' compensation but didn't? They are subject to criminal and civil penalties. The company could be fined, prosecuted criminally and sued in a civil action.

As these details suggest, workers'-compensation can get tricky. New Yorkers who find themselves traversing the workers'-compensation process may benefit from discussing their situation with an experienced workers'-compensation attorney.

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