March 9, 2023
Workers’ Comp & Alternative Medicines and Treatments
By Jonathan Damashek
Getting injured on the job can be traumatic and stressful. Your injuries might prevent you from returning to your previous role, or you could face permanent disability. You should have Workers’ Compensation benefits available through work.
You might be able to use these benefits to access alternative medicines or treatments. However, you might have a better chance of relief by pursuing a third-party liability claim against those responsible for your injuries.
Learn more about your options with workers’ comp benefits and alternative methods.
Can You Use Workers’ Comp for Alternative Treatments?
Workers’ compensation benefits assist injured workers so they can pay the medical bills or lost wages connected to their work injury.
The Workers’ Compensation Board oversees the day-to-day properties of claims. The board works to protect employees’ and employers’ rights. It uses Medical Treatment Guidelines to provide universal care to workers throughout the state, with standards of care for various injuries.
The last reported update was in February 2022, but the MTGs are subject to change. Recent legislation could expand the use of alternative medical treatments for NY workers.
What Are Alternative Treatments or Medicines?
After an injury, employees can pursue relief from their symptoms. Whether they’re returning to work or completely unable to work, their workers’ compensation benefits allow them to stay on their feet.
In most cases, workers may prefer traditional medicine methods. Doctors’ visits, surgeries, or prescription medications are considered traditional and are often the first thing you think of when you think of treatment.
However, some workers may prefer “holistic” or alternative medicines. It’s possible to have workers’ compensation benefits pay for some of these treatments. You’ll need to check the provider is on the WBC’s approved provider list.
Some types of alternative medicines include:
- Reiki: a “hands-on” healing practice. Practitioners gently touch or hold their hands over painful areas of the patient’s body to move energy away and guide healing
- Yoga: a breathing and stretching method. Patients can be guided through breathing exercises or shown poses to hold to increase relaxation
- Acupuncture: traditional Chinese method to balance the flow of energy. Typically, practitioners will insert thin needles at strategic points to help alleviate pain or improve overall wellness
- Biofeedback: meditation focusing on a patient’s body. A patient is taught to send healing messages to pain points, encouraging healing
- Massage: hands-on exercise on the patient’s body. A massage therapist manipulates soft tissue in afflicted areas to encourage blood flow and release tension
The WBC recognizes some alternative medicines or treatments, like acupuncture, massage, and biofeedback. These methods could be expanded if more people push for alternative medicines.
Can I Lose My Benefits by Going to Alternative Treatments?
If you’re seeking alternative treatments that aren’t listed in the WBC’s MTGs or with an approved medical care provider, you might be able to pursue those treatments.
You can ask an approved medical care provider to recommend the treatment to get started. If you seek it out on your own, you shouldn’t lose your benefits, but you might have to pay for the visits out of your own pocket.
Should I Pursue a Third-Party Liability Claim?
In most cases where workers’ compensation benefits aren’t enough, or if you’re seeking treatment from a group that the WBC doesn’t approve, you might benefit from a third-party liability claim.
Even if workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance, you may be able to pursue a claim to cover your damages in full after someone’s negligence on the work site got you injured.
Who Is Liable in a Third-Party Claim?
A third-party claim can be brought against the city, the government, a subcontractor, a general contractor, an equipment manufacturer, a driver, or a property owner.
What Are the Benefits of a Third-Party Claim?
Workers’ compensation should cover your medical bills, but it will only cover half of your lost wages. You might receive payments for partial or total disability.
A third-party claim will hold the liable party accountable, and they’ll cover your economic and non-economic losses.
File a Third-Party Claim
If you pursue a third-party claim, you will file with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If your claim is denied, you can seek a lawsuit.
What Makes a Claim Successful?
Your best chance at recovering damages through a third-party claim is to work with a NY personal injury lawyer and collect evidence to support your case. A knowledgeable attorney can investigate your case to identify liable parties. They can negotiate on your behalf and work with you as you work on recovering.
You should keep your records or communications from your work, workers’ compensation agents, or the liable parties in your injury. Your medical records can prove your economic losses, and statements from your work can help establish your lost wages or non-economic losses.
A personal injury lawyer can explain how to improve your case and handle court appearances.
Call HKD with Your Work Injury Questions
The personal injury lawyers at Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., have helped New Yorkers recover millions in liability claims. We understand that workers’ compensation doesn’t always cover your needs.
A third-party liability claim can protect your interests as you pursue a workers’ compensation claim. HKD can help you navigate the claims process to continue providing for your family.