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Workers' compensation and the Section 32 waiver

New Yorkers who have been injured in falls, scaffolding accidents, and ladder mishaps while on the job may have a hard enough time proving that they qualify for workers' compensation benefits. They're employer or their employer's insurer may try to claim that the employee was operating outside of his or her employment duties at the time the accident occurred. However, even those who do successfully claim workers' compensation benefits may have difficulty recovering all the benefits to which they are entitled.

Although an injured worker may receive monthly benefits to help cover their medical expenses and lost wages, there are other options available to them. In New York, an injured worker and an insurer can agree to enter into what is known as a Section 32 waiver. Under these agreements, an individual can receive either a lump sum or annual payment from the insurance company in exchange for permanently closing out the claim. These agreements can apply to medical expenses, lost wages, or both.

These agreements are negotiable, and are not final until they are approved by the state's workers' compensation board. This means that before agreeing to such an agreement, an injured worker needs to fully understand what his or her claim is worth. Additionally, it is critical for these individuals to fully understand their future medical needs before agreeing to accept a lump sum payment and permanently close their claim.

Taking a lump sum payment can be tempting and, in some cases, it can be in an injured individual's best interests. However, claimants need to be careful when dealing with insurance companies that are looking to save money. Therefore, it is often best to discuss these matters with a qualified legal professional who can help clarify the big picture and negotiate a settlement that supports a worker's best interests. Additionally, these individuals should recognize that workers' compensation may not fully cover their losses. In these circumstances it may be wise to pursue a third-party claim under a personal injury theory in hopes of recovering additional compensation.

Source: New York Workers' Compensation Board, "Section 32 Waiver Agreements," accessed on May 28, 2017

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