Legal information is complex, and understanding the intricacies of a workers’ compensation claim is no different. I have tried to simplify it in this article, but you’ll need laser-sharp focus to understand the important information that follows.
Workers’ compensation laws are designed to cover the expenses of employees who are injured while executing work-related duties. This includes compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and partial wages. That said, there are some twists and turns that may require professional assistance to navigate.
So, while I’ve touched on virtually everything you need to know about workers’ compensation claims, make sure you speak to a personal injury attorney if you have further questions and concerns.
Let’s dive in!
No. 1: It’s Your Right!
Employers in every state of the U.S. are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. The law is designed to protect you and your family in the case of an unfortunate event.
Here’s the complicated part – workers’ comp requirements and coverage levels vary from one state to another. State laws may differ based on the number of employees, the type of injury, the timeframe an employee has to file a claim, qualifying requirements, etc. States also have different laws on the minimum and maximum duration of coverage and policy amounts.
No. 2: Your Employer Doesn’t Have to Be at Found at Fault for You to Get Workers’ Compensation
Lots of people mistakenly think they have to prove that their employer is guilty or at fault before the employer can be required to pay compensation. If you genuinely like your employer you might have a hard time bringing yourself to file for your much-deserved compensation.
Fortunately, that’s not how it works. In fact, workers’ compensation insurance is a “no-fault insurance.” This means it’s not a blame game. The law is aimed at protecting you regardless of fault, not nailing erring companies.
To access your benefits, you have to prove just one thing:
You have to prove that the injury was sustained while doing work-related activities in adherence to standard operating procedures.
While this may be difficult to prove, hiring a lawyer skilled in workers’ compensation will make it a lot easier.
No. 3: You Reserve the Right to Sue Your Employer
While I’ve said your employer doesn’t have to be the villain, there are unique situations where employers have directly or indirectly caused life-altering accidents.
Imagine a situation where an employer asks an employee to carry out a task beyond their skillset or without providing appropriate protective gear. If an accident occurs in such conditions, the employee may want to take further legal action against the company.
If your injury occurred due to the negligence of your employer and standard workers’ compensation isn’t enough to cover your losses a lawsuit against your employer might be your best option. However, suing your employer may not always be the right move. You’ll want to seek the professional help of an experienced workers’ compensation and personal injury attorney to learn what your best options are to get the compensation you deserve.
No. 4: Workers’ Compensation Covers Long Term Injuries
This one can be a bit tricky, yet crucial. Read on, and I’ll keep it as concise as possible.
Certain workplace conditions can cause severe health hazards in the long run. For instance, if your job involves using handheld tools or typing all day, you may develop musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from repetitive use, like carpal tunnel syndrome or rotator cuff injuries. Or, if you work in a chemical production plant, you may come down with a respiratory condition or worse, cancer.
But how do you prove your workplace conditions caused a long-term disease or disability? Photos and witnesses won’t cut it this time. The short answer:
You’ll need a seasoned attorney. One who can reach out to their network of professionals and prove, using research studies and evidence from similar occurrences, that your work led to your injury or illness.
No. 5: Your Benefits May Extend Beyond Financial Compensation
Sometimes these injuries can deal a blow to you and your family. And while money can alleviate most of the problems, you’ll need something more to help you adapt to your new reality.
For example, suppose you’ve sustained an injury that keeps you out of work for a long time or makes you unable to perform your usual job. In that case, you’ll be eligible for a vocational rehabilitation program.
Voc Rehab is available in virtually every state. The program enables you to keep your job or, if impossible, prepares you for a new career that suits your new reality. This ensures that you and your family are not left at the mercy of unemployment benefits.
So, while money is essential, vocational rehab programs help provide the foundation for rebuilding your future.
No. 6: You’re Protected Against Retaliation From Your Employer
The law is clear on one thing: Employers cannot bring down the hammer on employees who file a workers’ comp claim.
Employees are often worried about their employer’s retaliation if they file for a comp claim. I know this fear has stopped some misinformed employees from claiming their rightful compensation.
However, the law offers zero tolerance for employers who fire or punish employees just because they file a workers’ comp claim. Even if you’ve got bad employers, they know the law, so you should have absolutely nothing to worry about.
Your employer should understand you’re only trying to protect yourself and your family. No hard feelings. However, if you find yourself in a situation where an employer violated the law, seek legal help immediately.
No. 7: A Little on Workers’ Compensation Fraud
The law is enacted to help employees in dire need. Like everything else, it has been abused by some dishonest people. Employers and employees alike.
Dishonest employees may stage an accident. This is usually to get compensation for a non-work-related injury. Other times, they may exaggerate the severity of an injury to inflate the value of their claim.
On the other hand, employers may attempt to dissuade employees from filing a legitimate claim, or wrongfully accuse an employee of making a fraudulent claim.
You’ve got nothing to worry about, though. A good workers’ compensation lawyer can sniff out traces of fraud from miles away.
While it might be tempting to try to claim more than you’re entitled to, or for an employer to take advantage of the system there are severe penalties when you’re caught. Between possible jail time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, it’s best to just be honest.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the legal world is a complex one. You may never learn all the ins and outs. At least, not as well as an attorney.
However, I have simplified some necessary information about workers’ compensation laws, and here’s a summary:
- It’s YOUR RIGHT to receive workers’ compensation in the unfortunate event of a workplace injury.
- Your employers can’t penalize you for filing a compensation claim. In fact, you may sue them (if necessary) and still keep your job.
- You don’t have to prove your employer is at fault.
- Long-term injuries are covered.
- Your compensation may go beyond money and medical treatment.
Hopefully, you found the information here useful.