No matter how safe you try to be, sometimes accidents happen. When they occur at work, however, you may be entitled to benefits under New York’s workers’ compensation laws. These benefits may include medical treatment, payment for lost wages, and even survivor benefits.
If your workplace injury is serious enough to warrant surgery, it may raise additional issues – such as whether your employer will pay for the surgery and whether you should try to settle your case before or after having surgery. Generally, the value of your workers’ compensation claim will increase if you require surgery, as it indicates a more serious injury. Because some workers’ comp settlements may be considered final, it may be better to settle your claim after you have surgery and have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Attorney Paul Giannetti represents clients in the greater Albany area who have been injured in all types of accidents – including those that happened at work. If you have suffered an on-the-job injury, reach out to a skilled Albany workers’ compensation attorney to schedule a free consultation about your workers’ comp case.
Who Will Pay for Surgery After a Work Injury?
New York workers’ comp law requires employers to pay for medical treatment or care that an employee requires due to an on-the-job injury. This care, which is typically paid for by an employer’s insurance carrier, may include:
- Medical treatment
- Dental treatment
- Prescription medication
- Eye care treatment (optometry)
- Assistive devices
For some types of injuries, medical treatment must be provided in accordance with New York’s medical treatment guidelines (MTG). Under these guidelines, medical providers can perform many treatments without first asking the insurance company for authorization.
If surgery is necessary for your work injury, then it should be covered 100% by your employer; you should not pay out of pocket for these medical bills. Postoperative care should also be covered, such as wound care and skilled nursing. If there is a dispute as to whether surgery is necessary, then you may choose to file a claim with the New York Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB).
How Does Having Surgery Affect My Workers’ Comp Settlement?
There are a number of factors that impact the value of a workers’ compensation settlement, including the extent of the injuries, whether the injured worker is able to return to work and the degree to which a person is disabled. Depending on your specific situation, having surgery may increase the total value of your workers’ compensation case – particularly if you still have some level of disability after the surgery.
Importantly, New York workers’ compensation settlements are often final, particularly when they involve a lump sum payment. There are two options for a workers’ comp settlement after surgery: a stipulation or a Section 32 waiver. A stipulation can be changed in the future, while a Section 32 waiver is permanent.
Remember that the workers’ compensation insurance company is not necessarily looking out for your best interests when asking you to sign a settlement agreement. Instead, their goal is to maximize profits by denying your claim or minimizing the amount of workers’ compensation benefits that they payout to you.
For this reason, you should carefully consider whether to sign a settlement agreement if it contains a Section 32 waiver for future medical benefits. If you need future medical care after agreeing to a Section 32 settlement, you will be responsible for paying for it. Be sure to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before signing any paperwork to settle your claim.
What Is the Timeline to Settle a Workers’ Comp Claim?
The amount of time that it takes to settle a workers’ compensation claim will vary depending on the injury involved and the time that it takes for you to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point at which doctors decide that you are not going to improve further with additional treatment.
If your injuries are relatively minor, you may reach MMI quickly and be able to settle your claim within weeks or months. For more extensive injuries, particularly those that require lengthy medical treatment, such as for a back injury, it may be months or even years before you can fully settle your workers’ comp claim. Keep in mind that throughout this time, you should be receiving both medical benefits as well as disability benefits.
Benefits of Hiring a New York Workers’ Comp Attorney
When you file a workers’ comp claim, it doesn’t just go to your employer – it goes to their insurer. Workers’ comp insurance companies are in business to make money. They often have teams of lawyers and adjusters ready to take on workers’ compensation claims, working to pay as little as possible (or even deny the claim entirely).
A skilled workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the maximum compensation for your work injury. In addition, your lawyer will protect your rights – such as by making sure that you don’t sign away your ability to receive future medical treatment through a work injury settlement.
Hurt at Work? Reach Out Today.
After a work-related injury, you may be juggling a lot of different things: getting medical treatment, dealing with lost wages, and figuring out how to pay your bills. This is particularly true if your injury was serious enough to require surgery, which may result in you being out of work for a substantial amount of time. We’re here to help.
Paul Giannetti, Attorney at Law, represents injury victims throughout the greater Albany area. For each client, he uses his experience and knowledge of New York workers’ compensation law to help his clients achieve the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, call his law firm at 518-243-8011, or fill out the online contact form.