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Can You Get Workers’ Comp If You Get Hurt on Your First Day?

Eligibility for workers’ compensation does not depend on how long you have worked for the company.

When starting a new job, employees are often required to wait several weeks or months before they are eligible for certain benefits, such as a 401(k) plan, paid maternity/paternity leave, paid vacation and sick days, and health insurance. Some workers might assume that there is a waiting period for workers’ compensation as well, but that’s not the case.

Fallen worker holding leg

In New York, new employees are immediately eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, even for an injury that occurs on the first day of work. That said, some aspects of the workers’ compensation process can be more complicated if you just recently started your job, so it’s particularly important to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer about your rights.

Accidents on your first day are covered by workers’ compensation insurance.

Again, length of time at your job is not a factor in eligibility for workers’ comp. What matters is that you are an employee (not a contractor) and that you were injured at work.

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too real for many employees who experience a work accident on their first day. Some reasons people get hurt on their first day of work include:

  • Insufficient Training: Jobs that require manual labor, heavy machinery, or dangerous tasks require extensive training. When this preparation is inadequate, employees can be at risk of injury within hours of starting their new job.
  • Lack of Protective Equipment: Providing employees with adequate protective gear is essential, regardless of experience level. Failure to do so puts workers at risk.
  • Unexpected Accidents: In some cases, injuries happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Even on your first day, you could get hurt in a work accident such as a slip and fall. There’s no predicting bad luck.

No matter the occupation or industry, employees are at risk of injury at any time, even on their first days. The important thing to remember is that those who experience an injury while on the job are eligible for workers’ comp, no matter how long they’ve been there.

Remember to report your work injury.

Reporting a work injury can be a daunting experience for any employee, and it’s exponentially harder when you’re on your first day at a new job and barely know the person you have to tell. However, failing to do so can result in severe consequences. Not reporting the injury can affect your eligibility to file a workers’ compensation claim. Delaying the report of an injury can also decrease the likelihood of a successful claim.

Remember that by law, your employer cannot fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, regardless of tenure or probationary status. The bottom line is: do not be afraid to report your work injury, even if it happens on your first day. Tell your manager or someone else in charge at your new employer. Make sure to get the report in writing so that you have a record to support your workers’ comp claim.

How workers’ compensation benefits are calculated for new employees

There are generally two parts of a workers’ compensation claim: medical benefits and disability benefits. The medical side of workers’ compensation is the same regardless of how long you have been at your job. The workers’ compensation insurance company is required to pay the full cost of all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for the work injury.

The disability portion of your claim, however, can be more complicated for new employees. In New York, workers’ compensation pays two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW) when you are out of work due to a work injury, beginning on the eighth day of disability (not necessarily consecutive). If you miss at least 15 calendar days of work, you are retroactively eligible for compensation for the first seven days as well. There are also schedule loss of use (SLU) benefits for certain permanent injuries, which again depend on your AWW.

For most workers, the average weekly wage is calculated based on your gross income in your previous 12 months at your job. But if you’ve only been at your new job for a short time, that is obviously impossible. In those situations, the employer is required to provide the salary information for another employee in the same or a similar job to calculate the AWW.

These situations can be complex and contentious. Your employer and their insurance company may try to calculate the AWW in a manner that reduces the amount they have to pay. Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side levels the playing field.

Protecting the rights of injured New Yorkers for 80 years

For eight decades, our law firm has been a steadfast advocate for hard-working New Yorkers who have suffered workplace injuries and illnesses. We guide injured workers through the often-complex New York workers’ compensation claim process, assisting with filing claims, selecting medical care, understanding benefits, and submitting wage and hour claims.

At Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP Attorneys At Law, we approach each case with a trial-ready mentality. We are not afraid to take legal action, which often motivates opponents to reach fair settlements outside of court. With a focus on protecting the rights of injured workers, our attorneys are dedicated to securing the best possible outcomes for our clients. To learn how an experienced New York City workers’ compensation lawyer can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.

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