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New York Workers' Compensation Blog For Small Business Owners

Should you self-insure your business? Consider these points

Insurance premiums for your business can be a crushing expense, which is why many smaller businesses decide to shoulder their own risk and self-insure. The cost and control that self-insurance offers can be attractive.

But self-insurance isn't for every business. Any kind of risk retention comes with potential problems. Most typically, the problem with self-insurance comes along when a company gets sidelined with costs they didn't expect. For example, you may never have had any real property damage at your business, so you might pick a pretty high deductible just to reduce your insurance costs. If you suddenly experience a loss that doesn't meet that deductible, your savings could be more than wiped out.

Creating policies that could help reduce work-related injuries

Workplace accidents can happen at any time, but the more measures you take in your business to keep your workers safe, the fewer that may occur. Figuring out what will work for your company may take some assessments and decisions regarding safety.

From there, creating policies and procedures to implement those measures is a vital part of the risk management process. In order to make sure that everyone understands the rules, whatever policies and procedures are instituted need to be in clear language easily understood and followed.

Posthumous PPD/LWEC Award

Workers' Compensation Law § 15[4] has long been the basis for posthumous schedule loss of use awards. But it has not been used as the basis for posthumous non-schedule awards - until now.

In Matter of Green v Dutchess County Boces (529624, 2020 WL 1056237 [3d Dept Mar. 5, 2020]) the Appellate Division, Third Department considered the claim of the survivors Eric Watson. Watson sustained a work-related injury to his right leg and was ultimately awarded a permanent partial disability with a 51% loss of wage-earning capacity, entitling him to wage-loss benefits not to exceed 350 weeks pursuant to Workers' Compensation Law § 15[3][w]. He died for reasons unrelated to work injury 311.2 weeks later.

Fight back against workers' compensation fraud

The workers' compensation system is designed to help protect employees and employers; however, some workers might try to take advantage of the system. In those cases, it is up to the employers to try to fight back. Fraudulent workers' compensation claims can hurt everyone, so they must be stopped before they become an issue.

There are many ways that workers might try to get over on the workers' compensation program. Most of these are based on fraud, which is why they shouldn't be allowed to continue on.

Independent contractor versus employee in New York

When a company needs to hire someone to do a job, it has two options. The first is that it can hire an employee. The second is that it can hire an independent contractor. While these parties can usually handle similar tasks, there are some legal differences that exist. Trying to ensure that your company classifies these individuals properly is critical. Misclassification of employees or independent contractors can be costly for companies.

There are several points that you need to think about when you're trying to determine whether you have an employee or an independent contractor. Typically, the more control you have over the person, the more likely they are an employee.

When should you deny workers' compensation claims?

As someone who works in the insurance business, you've likely seen your fair share of cases in which individuals have filed claims to benefits when they aren't entitled to receive them. There are several instances in which you as an insurer may deny an individual's claim for workers' compensation benefits.

Many claimants must think that their good actors. This is the only thing that would explain why so many individuals try to request workers' compensation benefits even though they aren't sick or hurt. One of the most common reasons why insurers have to deny a person's request for benefits is because none of the medical records show that there's anything wrong with them.

Employees that aren't generally covered by workers' compensation

New York is one of 39 states that require virtually every employer to offer workers' compensation coverage. It doesn't matter if a company has a single employee or multiple employees. All individuals who work for a business must be covered by this insurance unless they perform certain types of work or are classified in a particular way.

Most states don't require individuals who employ housekeepers and other domestic servants to take out workers' compensation coverage to pay for their medical costs if they get hurt on the job.

Use caution classifying workers as independent contractors

Small business owners typically have limited resources, so they look to save money wherever they can. The less they spend on running their businesses, the greater the chances of turning a profit. One burgeoning way to reduce overhead is hiring independent contractors whenever possible. Perhaps you have taken advantage of this growing business trend.

The kinds of services an independent contractor can supply are limitless. However, if you have or plan to use contract workers in your business, you would be wise to understand exactly what it means to be an independent contractor. These workers have certain protections under New York and federal law, and misclassifying an employee as a contractor could lead to serious legal entanglements for your business.

What should you do when a worker is hurt or falls ill on the job?

State and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials are the ones who set and enforce standards aimed at keeping workers safe. How you handle a worker falling ill or getting hurt on the job is left largely up to you as the employer though. There are some considerations that you'll want to take into account to be ready if an injuring incident occurs.

Like many other types of unexpected events, the best thing that you can do is to be prepared for them. You shouldn't just devise a plan for how to handle a situation that may arise, but also train your staff on how to handle it as well. You should have a point of contact that your employees can consult when a workplace incident occurs. You must have an emergency contact person on file for each worker. You should have a first aid kit fully stocked so that your workers can render aid to their colleagues, if necessary, as well.

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