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Closure of New York workers' comp hearing sites adds to struggles

Administrative hearings are an important part of the workers' compensation process, and they only take place at certain venues in New York. Recently, the New York Workers' Compensation Board and Gov. Andrew Cuomo were criticized for closing a number of rural workers' compensation hearing sites, a move that forces injured workers to travel farther to complete their hearings.

As a result of the closures, many claimants can no longer have their workers' compensation cases resolved in their own cities. Travel expenses may place an additional financial burden on those who are already strapped. Many injured workers in our state earned only minimum wage and now receive $100 or less in weekly compensation.

The decision to shut down the outlying sites was purportedly made for budgetary reasons. The director of public information for the Workers' Compensation Board says that it attempts to manage as many cases as possible without asking claimants to appear in person. Nevertheless, some have called for Gov. Cuomo to reverse the decision to close the sites. For now, however, there is no plan to reopen.

Hearing sites that have closed since November 2013 include:

  • Canton
  • Geneva
  • Hornell
  • Monticello
  • Niagara Falls
  • Oneonta
  • Queensbury
  • Riverhead

Employees who suffer from a work-related injury already have a number of hoops to jump through in order to receive the full amount of workers' compensation benefits to which they are entitled. Many find that an attorney's assistance is valuable in this process.

Lawyers negotiate with insurance companies and employers to secure the most favorable resolution, taking into account the claimant's right to coverage for medical expenses and rehabilitation in addition to lost wages.

Source: 

The Evening Tribune, "State pressed to re-open Hornell workers' comp site," Neal Simon, Feb. 6, 2014

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