What is the Appeals Process for NYS Workers’ Compensation?

The loser of a workers’ compensation case can appeal the decision. This blog details the process.

Once a case has been formally presented to the Workers’ Compensation Board, the losing party may appeal, (i.e., request review by a Panel of the WCB). In other words, the case must be filed with the WCB which is an administrative court. After the case has been presented, usually to a WCB hearing officer, a decision is rendered. This traditionally takes 30 to 60 days for said decision to be rendered and published. At that point, an appeal can be processed to a panel of the WCB. Following the decision of a WCB Panel of Commissioners; an aggrieved party may, depending on detailed procedural rights and requirements, further appeal to the same panel by requesting Reconsideration or in some cases request Full Board Review of the panels decision.

There are four WCB Panels composed of three commissioners who ride circuit in the four districts of the State. The Full Board is composed of all 12 WCB Commissioners plus the Chairman of the WCB.  Their decision exhausts the administrative route. Further appeals can then be processed civilly to the New York State Supreme Court,  Appellate Division, Third Department who presides in Albany. The end of the line would be an Appeal to the highest court, The New York State Court of Appeals. The time period from inception of the case to publishing decisions by the Court of Appeals can take many years. It further appears theoretically,  Federal Questions could be pursued through the Federal Courts. This writer knows of no Workers’ Compensation case that has been further pursed Federally.

Most cases never go past the original trier of fact or one level higher to a WCB Panel reviewing the case. Of the cases appealed to this level; there recently has been an increasing backlog of cases pending and this has caused delays in hearing process and the issuing of formal panel decisions. The present time associated with a decision, post appeal to a WCB Panel, has been approaching approximately one year from the time the appeal is filed. It appears the WCB is working on shortening this time period.

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