Under the Constitution of the United States, individuals are guaranteed the right to due process of law. It is that right which makes our country’s justice system function and what helps protect an individual facing accusations or criminal charges. Despite this fact, the Workers’ Compensation Board has new policies which could seriously impact your right to due process.
Section 20 of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law clearly states “the Chair of Board shall make or cause to be made, such investigation as it deems necessary, and upon application of either party, shall order a hearing, and within 30 days after a claim for compensation is submitted under this section, or such hearing close, shall make or deny an award determining such claim for compensation”. However, since that time the state legislature has enacted additional laws concerning conciliation, an alternative dispute resolution process geared to resolve relatively minor claims. Now, these conciliation meetings are being replaced by so-called “Administrative Decisions”. Instead of an individual’s case being brought before a Law Judge, so they can have a chance to represent their case, present evidence, question/challenge their accuser, etc. Administrative Decisions are simply being handed down without due process being administered.
In cases where objections exist, Amended Decisions are being handed down, without any opportunity for the individual to obtain a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Board. In addition, anyone who lodges a complaint or objection against an Administrative Decision, or Amended Decision, may be surprised when they are suddenly hit with penalties. Needless to say, this procedure does not exactly encourage anyone to pursue their right to due process.
It is important to note that Administrative Decisions have the force of the law, therefore anyone who is unfamiliar with the law, or who does not have competent legal representation will be forced to adhere to a legal decision that may seriously impact their rights and their future. Our firm understands that due process can be a complex process. We also know that for our clients to receive due process it has to be administered on an individual basis. No two cases are the same and no two cases should be forced to be resolved in the exact same manner. Yes, workers’ compensation laws must be adhered to, but each party in a workers’ compensation case should also have the right to be heard and the chance to defend their rights.
For more information about Workers’ Compensation Law and how it may affect you, or to obtain aggressive representation after being injured at the workplace, contact Katz, Leidman, Freund & Herman and speak with a skilled New York workers’ compensation attorney today.