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Court Rules on a Workers Compensation Claim in a Wrongful Death Matter


In a work-related accident, the decedent suffered permanent substantial disability in October 1973. An employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier was instructed to pay disability benefits to him. The defendant had pre-existing diabetes so the carrier applied and was give reimbursement from the Special Disability Fund pursuant to Workers’ Compensation Law.

When the decedent died on January 7, 1982, his widow filed to claim death benefits because she alleged that the injury sustained in October 1973 was an underlying factor in her husband’s death. A New York Probate Lawyer said that in compliance with the Workers’ Compensation Law the carrier converted the claim and applied for reimbursement from the Fund. There was a hearing with before an Administrative Law Judge and the application of the wife for death benefits was granted. The carrier did not ask for a review of the Workers’ Compensation Board about the connection of the injury to the death.

There was a later hearing for the carrier’s application for reimbursement from the Fund. The fund asked the Administrative Law Judge not to make a ruling until they could get a review from the Workers’ Compensation Board if the wife’s claim was compensable. The request was denied and the request of the carrier for settlement was granted. The fund appealed to the Board stating the wife would have not been awarded benefits because the death was not related to the injury sustained in October 1973. The Board’s decision was that the fund lacked standing to raise the issue. A Queens Probate Lawyer got information that the fund appealed.

When the case was already with the Appellate Court, the court said they agreed with the Board that reversing the decision will allow the Fund to reopen the primary issues related to the compensability of an injured or deceased employee’s claim. The Fund’s stand is the causal relationship between the death and the work-related accident. The legal idea of the Workers’ Compensation Law says a New York Workers Compensation Lawyer is to hire employers to hire permanently handicapped people. This is because of the reimbursement they are offered if they compensation to a work-related accident. The court said the representative of the fund only has standing in the proceedings when the employer claims for such compensations are being heard not when there is a claim from the employer. The conspiracy of an employee and employer is averted with the employer not being able to get reimbursement for the first two years of benefits.

If the court gives the Fund authority to take proceedings on the primary issues of compensability, even after the benefits have already been granted to the wife will generate two results that are inconsistent with the purpose of the Workers’ Compensation Law. One of the results will be to re-open the claim of the wife that will be in violation of the provision “to avoid extended medical controversies and delays in benefits.” The other one is for the employer to not be able to claim reimbursement, but will also not be able to get the money back from the wife. A Nassau County Probate Lawyer mentioned this will have a negative effect on the employers’ motivation to hire handicapped employees. This weakens the primary purpose of the law. Another argument of the Fund is to deny them of the chance to contest is breach of due process. This they did not raise with the Board so it did not become part of the review. Since the Fund was created by Legislature and is doing governmental function on behalf of the State, they are not able to assert rights under the Constitution against the State. The decision of the Board was affirmed without costs.

People often think that when making demands for compensation with regard to a work-related accident, they do not need a lawyer. This may have been harmful to their claims. Skilled legal counsel make sure that your claims are protected even after you get the benefits.

Stephen Bilkis & Associates will fight for your rights to benefits not only from the employers and insurance companies that neglect their obligation in providing compensation. Whether you have an estate litigation matter, or have suffered injury because of the actions of another, we are here to help. We handle claims from all over New York and Long Island. If you have encountered a legal problem, you can contact us online or at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW. We also have offices all over New York.

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