December 31, 2015

COMMENTARY: A few thoughts as the year ends and some suggesions for next year.

DECISIONS: There are no decisions from the Third Department this week but seven new cases have been added to the Third Department's January hearing calendar.



Contact The Insider at:    TheInsider@InsideWorkersCompNY.com                                                                         212-734-9450


InsideWorkersCompNY is the creation of Michael T. Berns, former Board Member/Commissioner of the New York State Workers Compensation Board, based on the insight developed during 12 years of service including participation in more than 40,000 decisions and 10,000 hearings.

Updated weekly since 2008, this free website gives insight into the NYS WCB to help the workers comp community understand why the WCB does what it does and how to deal with its inconsistencies and bureaucratic obfuscations as well as giving the community and Board staff an anonymous bulletin board. Among the different pages are:

COURT DECISIONS: Weekly summaries of workers comp related decisions from the New York's various courts and a list of the “winningest” attorneys each the year. These go back to 2008.

COMMENTARY: My comments on key topics, major court decisions, board policies, and answers to questions from my readers. And, occasional guest editorials and commentaries which are either attributed or published anonymously.

NEWSWIRE: Weekly listings of key developments from the media as well as various state agencies.

BIOGRAPHIES: The Commissioners' official and unofficial biographies and how they got appointed.

THE BOARD SECRETS: If you have ever wondered how the bureaucracy of the Workers Compensation Board really runs, then read:

Behind The Closed Doors - An insider’s look at how things really work at the NYS Workers Compensation Board and how to fix them.

HELP FOR INJURED WORKERS & EMPLOYERS: A quick guide to getting answers that injured workers, their families, and employers can not get from the Board itself, from how does the system really work to 'what takes so long?"

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Michael T. Berns, The Insider
Commissioner 1996-2008
NYS Workers Compensation Board


December 27, 2015♦ Week 366

COMMENTARY: As the year ends, it is time to reconsider the function of the Board and its relationship to, among others, the attorneys who represent claimants and carriers.
DECISIONS: The Board prevails in three cases at the 3rd: SLU Lump Sum with a PPD, another §114-a(3) penalty on a venue case (12th in three years), and a §28 bar on an existing claim for an additional site of injury.
NEWSWIRE: Former WCB Executive Director Mark Wade is already in his new job, six months after starting at the Board.

December 17, 2015♦ Week 365

BULLETIN: NYC WCB Executive Director Mark Wade has apparently decided to resign after only 7 months at the Board, according to several sources both inside and outside the Board. More details to follow.
DECISIONS: No workers compensation related cases have been published this past week.
COMMENTARY A reader states that a claimant can force a carrier to pay awards, penalties, M&T, and medical bills by invoking WCL §54-b and essentially by-passing the Board.

December 10, 2015♦ Week 364

DECISIONS: No workers compensation related cases have been published this past week.
COMMENTARY This week, I publish Part II of “A Claimant’s Suggestions as to How the Board can Help Claimants.” Let us hope someone out there at the Board who can do something about these points is reading this. Or may be a State Legislator, someone of the NYS Senate Committee on Labor or NYS Assembly Labor Committee, will ask why these recommendations are not being acted upon.

December 3, 2015♦ Week 363

DECISIONS: Board is reversed again on §25-a (will they ever learn) but wins on two causally related injuries, one for a claimant one for a carrier. And a procedural issue on full board reviews is noted.
COMMENTARY A claimant offers several steps the Board can take to better communicate with injured workers, by giving them comprehensible information to allow them to participate in their claims, rather than treating them as just a case number to be moved, as fast as possible, to be "CLOSED" category.

November 26, 2015♦ Week 362

DECISIONS:Although there were three interesting decisions issued this past week involving workers compensation law, none related to Board decisions.
COMMENTARY A claimant asks if it is necessary to use their name in a WCB decision, particularly when the case involves stress or other psychological issues. I think not and offer a solution.

November 19, 2015♦ Week 361

DECISIONSThe Court found one Board decsion which conflicted with others cases on the same issue: just sloppy work. No legal fee was due on a §32 settlement involving $351,501 and the 30 days in §18 is not an absolute.

November 12, 2015♦ Week 360

DECISIONSIn the one case this week involving the Board determined that the due date of an ATF payment is the date the Board rules on the amount, not when ATF calculates it.

COMMENTARY While the Board’s recent update on the Payor Compliance Program is welcome, one can ask why there is not such Compliance Program for the Board.

November 5, 2015 ♦ Week 359

DECISIONS: In the one case this week involving the Board, two issues were resolved in the Board’s favor, with the Special Fund prevailing, a pro-se claimant losing, and the carrier/employer splitting. In a second case, the 3rd again confirmed that a successful WC claim does not automatically guarantee the establishment of a claim in other jurisdictions, in this case under Municipal Law 207-c. And some new cases set for the Court of Appeals.
COMMENTARY  This week’s COMMENTARY speculates on  reasons why Governor Cuomo has left the two WCB Commissioner slots vacant.
NEWSWIRE: The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is having a one-hour webinar November 12 to discuss geographic variation in surgery rates.

To read prior weekly alerts, 
The 3rd Dept affirmed the Board’s determination that “wage earning capacity” does not to temporary disabilities. But the 4th Dept basically found that the Board was overreaching in its attempt to levy deficit assessments against members of a defunct GSIT.