New York State Employees’ Compensation Board Broadcasts Partnership with the New York State Bar Affiliation to Present Free Authorized Providers for Injured Employees

The Legal Aid Project for Injured Workers expands workers’ access to justice and connects volunteer lawyers with unrepresented workers

The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board has launched its first legal aid project to help injured workers with medical treatment, the Injured Workers Legal Assistance Project (IWLAP). Now injured workers can fill out a simple online form maintained by the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) to directly request a match with a NYSBA member attorney who will represent workers on certain free-of-charge workers’ compensation claims. The NYSBA-hosted form, along with resources and information for attorneys interested in volunteering with NYSBA, includes Worker_Compensation_Project.

The board is working with the NYSBA to bring together volunteer attorneys who want to help injured workers with these claims. The partnership with NYSBA enables representation recommendations to be processed faster thanks to the use of digital platforms for customer intake and recommendation. In addition, this partnership expands on the recent collaboration between New York State and NYSBA’s COVID-19 Pro Bono Network, which provides New Yorkers with free legal assistance in applying for unemployment insurance benefits and in probate and probate proceedings.

“This is another important move in New York’s long history of protecting workers ‘rights and access to benefits,” said Clarissa M. Rodriguez, Chair of the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board. “The Legal Aid Project for Injured Workers gives injured workers better access to justice when they have difficulty getting medical care for their work-related injuries or illnesses. The project helps workers with purely medical claims to find legal representation, which also improves the overall operation of the employee compensation system. “

Scott M. Karson, president of the New York State Bar Association, said, “New Yorkers who are injured at work deserve legal representation. But often workers whose only wish is to make sure their medical bills are paid cannot find a lawyer. That’s why we’re partnering with the Workers’ Compensation Board to help injured workers focus on healing instead of worrying about how they’ll pay their medical bills. Volunteering and making sure all New Yorkers have access to justice is the ultimate calling of our profession. “

IWLAP launched in November 2020 initially in partnership with the Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP) of the New York State Unified Court Systems and two legal service nonprofits, The Legal Project, based in Albany, and the Worker Justice Center offices in Rochester, Kingston and White Plains. Free legal assistance has been offered to more than 60 injured workers across New York state, and more than a dozen have consulted with and engaged a free lawyer in the effort.

The AEP, which is partly administered by Fordham University School of Law, helps recruit volunteer attorneys to assist injured clients of workers through one of the host organizations. AEP, The Legal Project, and the Worker Justice Center will work with NYSBA and the Board to continue to identify volunteer lawyers and injured workers in need of assistance.

After determining the need to represent injured workers in medical claims, the Board created IWLAP and invited legal service organizations to work with it. In the case of these purely medical claims, the insurance carrier or self-insured employer who pays the medical services is liable, but denies the medical treatment requested by the injured employee. These cases usually present a challenge for injured workers seeking legal representation, as no legal fees are paid if there are no lost wages.

The board provides training and support for hosting legal service organizations and their volunteer lawyers. The Board of Directors virtual hearing system, in use nationwide since 2018, makes volunteering especially easy for IWLAP as the system allows injured workers, attorneys / trainees and other parties to remotely attend employee compensation hearings via secure video conferencing. Users can log in once and move from one hearing to the next, anywhere in the state. This eliminates the need to travel and the time it takes to be absent from work. The virtual hearing aid has enabled the board to continue the hearings without interruption since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interested attorneys can learn more about NYSBA’s pro bono efforts at

For more information on the AEP, visit:; Information on The Legal Project can be found at:; and for the Worker Justice Center visit:

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