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New law to protect public workers from workplace injuries

New York workers in some industries are extremely vulnerable to assault. Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new bill into law that will see assaults on public workers elevated to felonies from misdemeanors. Previous laws had been enacted to better protect workers such as emergency medical service providers and technicians along with transit workers. Sadly, some public workers to suffer severe workplace injuries at the hands of those they serve.

The new legislation followed a report made to State Senator William Larkin about a violent attack on a utility worker. The three categories of workers that will be included in the new law are utility workers, cleaners of stations and terminals and court employees who deliver summonses to people who are involved in court cases. These workers are often targeted by aggressive members of the public.

Governor Cuomo said the tasks performed by these workers are vital to the smooth operating of institutions in New York. An AFL-CIO trade union spokesperson said workers in these industries are particularly vulnerable because some of them often have to enter the homes of people where they are not particularly welcome. Others work on their own at transportation facilities such as subways and stations, exposed to the aggression of some members of the public.

Public workers who have been the victims of assault are entitled to pursue recovery of damages. Most victims of workplace injuries can file benefits claims with the New York workers’ compensation insurance system. If the injuries were caused by a third party, there may also be a viable civil claim to be filed. Many workers choose to utilize the experience of a skilled workers’ compensation attorney to assess the viability of such a claim and navigate the legal processes that will follow.

Source:, “New York takes tough stance on public worker assault“, Sept. 26, 2016

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