The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dire impact on New York and the United States economies, and the way companies do business. While many companies have set up work-at-home situations for their employees, many more have had to lay off or furlough workers, forcing a record number of employees to seek unemployment benefits. There are so many aspects of the economy that have changed, including workers’ compensation coverage during the coronavirus crisis.
There are still many companies where employees are required to show up every day because they are considered essential employees. The pressure to keep up with the demands required by the public, as well as dealing with the spread of the virus throughout these workplaces, have put extra stress on employees. These demands have also required many companies to hire new employees but limiting the time for orientation and training new workers usually receive. These situations can create factors that lead to new workers’ compensation claims as the potential for workplace accidents increase.
How Are New Workers’ Compensation Coverage Claims Being Handled During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
A worker who submits a workers’ compensation claim during this time will likely experience delays because of the rules put in place by the governor for the New York Workers’ Compensation Board that will affect both existing and new claims. The agency is now closed to the public and many scheduled hearings have been postponed, although there are some hearings that are being held virtually.
However, it is not just the limitations on the NY WCB that will affect workers’ compensation coverage during the coronavirus virus. There are multiple other resources and industries that are crucial to the workers’ comp process that is also affected by shutdowns.
For example, many medical offices are temporarily closed. Hospitals have also canceled elective surgeries, diagnostic testing, and routine appointments until the crisis is over. Not only does this all have an impact on a newly injured worker’s ability to file a claim, but it is also impeding the recovery of many workers who were already injured and who need treatment in order to recover.
There is also the issue for injured workers who were ready to return to work, either back to their position or with modified restrictions, who are now without a job because their company has shut down.
Unfortunately, until the state begins to open back up, injured workers should still be able to receive benefits, but receiving medical treatments for recovery will likely be put on hold. Many physicians are offering telemedicine options, which can help injured workers maintain some semblance of treatments, however, other treatment recommendations, such as physical therapy, may be difficult to obtain because of the required social distancing put in place by the state.
Workers’ compensation claims can be difficult during normal times, but workers’ compensation coverage during the coronavirus pandemic may feel overwhelming to an injured worker. To help navigate through this process, contact Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. to find out how we can help.