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NY Assembly And Senate Pass Bill To Improve Worker Accessibility To Disability Benefits

The New York Senate and Assembly recently passed a bill to expand workers’ rights. If Governor Kathy Hochul signs it into law, injured workers with less severe injuries can seek additional benefits and compensation while they recover.

What Would The Justice For Injured Workers Act Do? 

Originally introduced to the state Senate in May, the Justice For Injured Workers Act (JIWA) would provide a significant update to workers’ compensation law in the state. Before S.B. 9149’s introduction, no legal definition for temporary total disability was available.  

Most company workers would have to rely on receiving approximately two-thirds of their pay for a specific time and often deal with benefit cuts before returning to work. However, this law would provide a straightforward process for injured employees. Regardless of their disability status, S.B. 9149 claims full benefits for the entire duration of the recovery process. The only exception will be if the employer accommodates the employee with appropriate tasks based on their medical condition. 

Aside from monetary benefits, employees also have the right to additional trials after their original one with the Wage Compensation Board. The proposed law would also bar courts from using the Wage Compensation Board’s trial as evidence for the new case. If S.B. 9149 is signed into law, the employee will make it easier for them to seek better conditions for their claim.

What S.B. 9149 Would Mean For Workers’ Comp Laws If Passed

New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes, the bill’s original sponsor, claims S.B. 9149 would “make it more accessible for workers to receive benefits they deserve when they are injured in the workplace.” 

This bill gives New York’s worker’s compensation laws the first major revision in decades. In 1989, the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of using the collateral estoppel doctrine, effectively preventing workers from filing further lawsuits. If they did, a Worker’s Compensation Law Judge (“WCLJ”) had the right to dismiss them based on previous trial findings. This ruling often left workers without fair compensation. If JIWA becomes law, a judge will have to treat every third-party legal claim separately, giving workers the freedom to pursue further legal action.

The law would also significantly expand the rights of temporarily incapacitated workers, especially those with minor injuries. Since JIWA clearly defines a worker’s disability status, any employee injured on the job would have the same rights to claim benefits. This provision also makes it harder for employers to fire workers who can’t perform their required tasks because of their disability.

Our Attorneys Are Here To Help

Are you seeking compensation for an injury you sustained at work? Our New York attorneys are here to help you with your case. If you have questions, use our website’s contact form to schedule a free initial consultation today. You can also call us at 855-208-7783. We have offices in Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and more.

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