A new report from the state Workers’ Compensation Commission says reforms last year have gone a long way to update the nearly 100-year-old system. Among them:
—The maximum weekly benefit for injured workers went from $400 to $500, and it will be raised annually at two-thirds of the average weekly wage in the state ($1,141 in 2007, so about $760 if wages don’t increase by 2010).
—New York employers pay, on average, the 19th highest workers’ compensation premium rates in the country, down from the 10th highest rates in 2006. This doesn’t include a 5 percent rate reduction.
—It used to take an average of more than 200 days for the Workers’ Compensation Board to resolve cases in which an employer disputes an injured workers claim and/or medical care. The board was able to halve that time and its goal is to get the time limit down to 90 days.
—The board had 3,652 pending cases as of Nov. 1, down nearly 1,100 cases since February.
—A total of $20 million in penalties have been levied statewide since July 2007, including $16.6 million in penalties to businesses that didn’t have the mandatory insurance. More than $3 million in penalties was for failing to produce accurate businesses records on employees, wages paid, classification of workers and other details. The penalty for failing to maintain insurance coverage was doubled this year to $2,000 for every 10 days out of compliance.