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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: WORKERS’ COMP

Every year, the Legislature considers dozens of bills to change the Workers’ Compensation Law that are proposed by business, labor, attorneys, health care providers, individuals, and others. Few of these bills receive serious consideration, and even fewer pass both houses of the Legislature and are sent to the Governor for signature (or veto).

This year, however, the Legislature passed four bills that affect the workers’ comp system. One bill would set standards for attorney fees, which would remove much of the state agency’s discretion and create clarity for injured workers about what their lawyer can be paid. Another bill would address the long delays that occur when an employer is uninsured by requiring the state’s Uninsured Employers Fund to take responsibility for a case within 10 days after a coverage issue arises. A third would prevent the state agency from refusing to consider appeals because of minor technical mistakes on its complicated forms, ensuring that cases are decided on their merits. The fourth would require the Board to translate all of its documents and forms into the 10 most commonly used languages in New York State and to provide a fuller range of interpretation and other services for workers who are not fluent in English.

All four bills are awaiting transmission to the Governor’s office, after which they will be signed or vetoed. Watch this space for updates!

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