Albany – The Senate voted to pass legislation, sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and Senator Diane J. Savino (A.619/S.5108), amending the workers’ compensation law. The bill, which the Assembly passed earlier in June, addresses instances in which injured workers currently can lose benefits simply by failing to respond promptly to seemingly routine paperwork sent by their insurer. The bill would change the law to make sure workers receive adequate notice of what's at stake and have a reasonable time period to respond.
“Especially in these difficult times, we've got to make sure injured workers aren't denied benefits because of technicality or an inability to cut through red tape," said Assemblymember Kavanagh. “This legislation will push insurance companies to communicate with workers clearly, fairly, and fully – and should help minimize improper delays and disruptions of benefits."
“For injured workers, who are already struggling to make ends meet, a simple delay in their workers compensation payment can have devastating consequences, such as bounced checks or late fees, which put them even further in a financial hole. All too often, insurers do not give adequate time to submit documentation or even indicate that their benefits will be terminated should they not respond. This is unacceptable, particularly for a hurt employee who must deal with his or her physical injuries, as well as loss of income,” said Senator Savino.
Kavanagh and Savino’s bill amends the workers’ compensation law to now require advance notice of a potential disruption in benefits for failure to timely respond to an inquiry. Insurers often send injured workers written requests for information without providing a reasonable time to respond or any indication that failure to respond could result in a delay or cancellation of benefits. With advance notice and clear deadlines, workers will be able to avoid any disruption or modification in their payments in these instances. The bill will next go to Governor David Paterson to be signed into law.
Assemblymember Kavanagh represents the 74th Assembly District on Manhattan's East Side. Senator Savino represents the 23rd Senate District in Brooklyn and Staten Island.