To: Insurance Carriers and Self-Insurers Providing Benefits Under the Workers' Compensation Law, Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law, and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law; Attorneys and Licensed Representatives Appearing Before the Board
Date: May 6, 2003
In order to protect the privacy of injured workers, Workers' Compensation Law §110-a limits access to information contained in each individual workers' compensation file to only those individuals who are authorized to view the file. In the area of adjudication, the individuals specifically authorized to access file information are:
- the claimant,
- an attorney or licensed representative who has been retained by the claimant and filed Form OC-400, Notice of Retainer/Substitution and Appearance,
- the employer subject to the claim, along with the employer's agents acting within the scope of their duties in evaluating, processing or settling the claim,
- the insurance carrier for that claim, along with the carrier's agents acting within the scope of their duties in evaluating, processing or settling the claim.
Because the Workers' Compensation Board must protect the privacy of each injured worker, and in an effort to identify those individuals who should have access to a particular case folder, the Board has enhanced a number of its procedures that will streamline the process of acquiring proper access to a particular file while protecting the privacy of that injured worker.
If you are not one of the above-identified people and need to access an individual claimant's file, you must do one of the following before access will be granted:
- Secure permission from the claimant on Form OC-110A, Claimant's Authorization to Disclose Workers' Compensation Records, or by notarized letter from the claimant and submit it to the Board,
- Secure a court-ordered subpoena, or a court order, from a court of competent jurisdiction (New York State, Federal, NYS Workers' Compensation Board), and submit it to the Board,
- Sign a Section 110-a Affirmation/Affidavit (Form OC-110A.1) at a hearing site, if immediate access is needed for a scheduled hearing. (Attorneys and licensed representatives only)
In particular, attorneys who represent parties on a particular case should be aware that they are not permitted to access traveling case files of that same claimant without proper permission. Please note that Form OC-400 has recently been amended to provide this permission.
Finally, as has been previously advised via Subject Number 046-110, issued in September of 2002, because it is unlawful to disclose even the existence of a workers' compensation claim file to non-authorized individuals, all references to previous decisions of the Board should be made by employer name, WCB Case Number, and date of filing, not a particular claimant's name. Prior to submission to the Board, copies of or references to Board decisions pertaining to claimants other than the subject claimant should be redacted accordingly.
Copies of Forms OC-110A, OC-110A.1 and newly-revised OC-400 can be downloaded from the Board's web page, www.wcb.ny.gov, or can be obtained by telephoning the local Board office.
Robert R. Snashall