We all work hard at our professions. If we get injured on the job, will our job work hard for us? Workers' compensation provides the exclusive remedy for employees who suffer on-the-job injuries. Workers' compensation is a form of insurance. This insurance provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees. These workers' compensation insurance systems are governed by workers' compensation laws. These laws vary by state. Being familiar with these laws is essential.
Suppose you are injured on your job. For example, you get in a car accident while making a delivery or get hurt by a defective product in the workplace. In these cases, you, as an injured person, are eligible to file a workers' comp claim. This claim can help you cover your medical bills, medical care, medical treatment, and other medical expenses. If the injury leads to a permanent disability, you may be eligible for disability benefits. You can also be eligible for permanent impairment benefits if your earning capacity is impacted.
This section offers information on workers' rights to safety in the workplace, specifics on benefits for injured workers, and the employer's obligations under most state and federal systems. You will also find in-depth information for injured railroad employees and workers who have been hurt in construction accidents. Finally, this section provides tips on each phase of the workers' compensation claims process. This section also encourages access to experienced workers' compensation attorneys.
Workers' Compensation Coverage
The first step in any workers' compensation claim is determining whether or not you are covered. Generally, there are two main factors that determine your coverage:
- Whether you are an employee
- Whether your injury occurred as a result of your employment
Neither of these factors is an absolute guarantee that you'll be covered by workers' compensation. However, some employees are not covered by workers' compensation for a work-related injury. Coverage will normally depend on the laws in your state. Workers' compensation also doesn't cover injuries that were intentional, nor does it cover injuries that occurred while intoxicated.
Employee Rights and Employer Responsibilities
Employees have the responsibility to comply with workplace rules and regulations and to report any injuries as promptly as possible. Employees also must cooperate with rehabilitation service providers. If not, they could risk a reduction, if not suspension, of wage loss benefits. If they follow the workers' compensation guidelines, an employee has a right to lost wages and vocational rehabilitation for their work-related injury.
Employers also have statutory and regulatory responsibilities they must fulfill. These can vary by state. Some states require employers to offer rehabilitation counseling services. They must offer these services to any employee who has an injury that has resulted in 60 days of lost time from work. Other states give employers 120 days if the injury results in a loss of "suitable gainful employment."
Employers may be required to pay for tuition and living expenses for employees. They might also cover room and board, child care expenses, and travel expenses on top of the regular wage loss benefits if an employee is enrolled in certain vocational rehabilitation programs.
Workers' Compensation Benefits
Injured employees generally can receive rehabilitation benefits. "Rehabilitation" in the workers' compensation context has two distinct meanings. The first is what most people think of as rehabilitation: physical therapy or rehabilitative care aimed at overcoming an injury and regaining functionality.
The second is the concept of "vocational" rehabilitation. Many states offer this type of rehabilitation to injured workers who cannot return to their former employment. This is often at the expense of their employer's workers' compensation carrier.
Limitations on Workers' Compensation
Workers' compensation does not cover all potentially hurtful situations. For example, if a co-worker intentionally hurts you, workers' comp may not cover you. You would need to file a personal injury claim or personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. You may even consider pressing criminal charges against your co-worker for intentionally harming you.
Personal injury is a more general category of law that covers various situations. This can include auto accidents, medical malpractice, injuries caused by defective products (known as product liability cases), and others. Personal injury cases can also cover future medical expenses related to the injury but can be difficult to prove in some cases. Sometimes, this is not always covered by workers' comp insurance.
To file such a claim, you would need the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. These lawyers specialize in these types of cases. These professionals can help you understand personal injury law. They can guide you in your dealings with insurance companies.
Hiring a Workers' Compensation Attorney
The process of filing and getting these claims approved can be a little complex. If you suffered injury from a workplace accident, you should consider talking to a workers' compensation lawyer. This lawyer, also known as a work injury lawyer or workers' comp attorney, specializes in personal injury law. They regularly handle workers' compensation cases. They can provide you with the legal advice you need to navigate the workers' compensation system.
Suing your employer for workplace injuries may disqualify you from collecting workers' compensation benefits. Third-party claims are another important aspect to consider. If you were injured due to the negligence of someone not employed by your company, like another driver in a car accident, you might have the right to file a third-party claim against them.
It never hurts to speak with a personal injury attorney if you have questions. On our workers' compensation legal answers page, you can learn more about state-specific laws.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.