In the past few months we have been discussing the various reforms being made to Workers’ Compensation Law in New York State. There have been some very significant changes and some that have been more under the radar, and more yet to come. One of these reforms that we have all been waiting for, and one that has created a large commotion throughout the state are the Workers’ Compensation Board proposed amendments to the impairment regulations and guidelines for Scheduled Loss of Use Awards. Andrew Cuomo authorized the board to amend the medical impairment guidelines to account for “advances in modern medicine that enhance healing and result in better outcomes” [WCL § 15(3)(x)]. However, many feel that the proposed amendments do not account for advances made in modern medicine, nor do they work in the benefit of the injured workers.
The official public comment period for the Board began November 22, 2017 regarding proposed regulations and guidelines and will come to a close on December 22, 2017. To date, it has been reported that the Board received over 6,000 public comments and over 100,000 postcards from all over New York State. Throughout the state there have also been protests and public demonstrations speaking out against the proposed changes, in addition to the individual unions who have publicly voiced their opposition to the proposed guidelines. At Erwin, McCane and Daly we fight for the rights of injured workers and work to make sure that their voice is heard by the Board. It is also our goal to help you stay informed of what is happening in the workers’ compensation landscape in New York.
What You Need to Know About Permanency Impairment Guideline Reform
In the initial reforms made, workers gave up their right to file civil lawsuits against employers, in exchange for fair compensation. This compensation is at stake for permanent injuries to extremities. Here are a few things you need to know:
- The Board is required to adopt new permanency impairment guidelines by January 1, 2018. Repeal of the The 2012 Permanency Guidelines paragraphs pertaining to WCL § 15(3)(a)-(v) will be on January 1, 2018.
- If necessary there will be a re-publication of the proposed guidelines and a second public comment period.
- The proposed guidelines can be found on the Workers’ Compensation Board website.
What Comes Next
The public comment period is now open until December 22, 2017, upon the closing date the board will review all comments made and will either make revisions to the proposed guidelines, and open a second public comment period or will wait until December 29, 2017 where it is required to vote on the proposed guidelines.
As we learn more about these specific worker’s compensation reforms and how they may impact the compensation injured workers may be eligible to receive we will keep you updated.