What musicians should know about workers’ comp

Volume 124, No. 7July, 2024

Dave Weiss

Allegro has covered the topic of workers’ comp for musicians more than once in the past. For instance, see Workers’ Compensation for the Working Musician by Victor Fusco, published in our February 2000 issue. This month, Local 802 member Dave Weiss shares his experiences, in hopes that it will help other members…

Worker’s compensation (sometimes shortened to “workers’ comp” and formerly known as “workman’s comp”) is a state program that can provide financial and medical benefits to workers who are injured on the job. I recently went through the process of making a claim through the workers’ comp system and want to share my experience with other Local 802 members.

If your injury meets the definition of a “covered incident,” the benefits you receive will help with your bills until you are back to work. And, if you have a “permanent disability,” you may be entitled to an award based on the severity of the injury.

The types of compensation can include:

  • Salary replacement
  • Doctor’s bills
  • Prescription drugs
  • X-rays and lab work
  • Physical therapy and rehab
  • Medical equipment
  • Attorney’s fees

This pretty much covers most of the costs associated with an injury.

The current maximum for salary replacement is around $1,145 per week…and that is not taxed! In fact, all the benefits you receive are treated like health benefits, so they are not subject to income taxes.

But it’s very important to follow the correct procedures.

So let’s say you were injured on the job. What are the first steps you should take? I asked attorney Jason Smollar that question. His law firm, Savino & Smollar, specializes in workers’ comp cases. (Discloser: Mr. Smollar is representing me in my workers’ comp case.)

Jason advises: “When an injury occurs at work, regardless of the severity, there are several important measures that you should take immediately. First, you must report the injury to a supervisor immediately. There is a 30 day maximum for timely notice. While it’s best to file a written accident report, simply notifying the employer through a supervisor is sufficient. Even if the injury seems minor, reporting it right away will save the injured worker time and avoid issues down the road. Second, see a medical professional right away. Whether you go to an Urgent Care facility, your primary care physician, visit the Emergency Room, or find a local doctor who accepts Workers’ Compensation insurance, contemporaneous care is crucial to a successful claim. Third, contact an attorney who focuses on Workers’ Compensation Law. While an attorney is not required to file a claim, the system is difficult to navigate, the Workers’ Compensation Board is NOT friendly toward injured workers, and the insurance carriers will take steps to limit your care & benefits from the start of the claim. Lastly, if you do wish to proceed without an attorney, you should file your claim directly with the Workers’ Compensation Board. Visit their Web site: for additional information.”

Lastly, retaliation against workers who file a workers’ comp claim is against the law. If management, your contractor, or other members of Local 802 subject you to retaliation, they can be subject to serious legal action.

My advice: contact management or your HR department as soon as possible. And talk to attorneys. Workers’ comp attorneys work on a contingency basis, and your initial consultations are likely to be free.

Below are links to those mentioned in this article.

Dave Weiss has been a member of Local 802 since 1979. This article is based on Dave’s personal experience in hopes that it will be helpful to fellow musicians, but is not meant to convey legal advice. Opinion pieces in Allegro, including MEMBER TO MEMBER, do not necessarily reflect the views of the officers, members or staff of Local 802. To inquire about submitting a piece to Allegro, send an e-mail to