Public Employees and Workers' Compensation
Workers' compensation is a system that helps people who get hurt at work. If you suffer from a work-related injury, you can get financial help. This help comes through workers' compensation insurance. The aid compensates for expenses like medical care and lost wages.
If you're a public employee working for the government, you're subject to separate workers' compensation rules. Federal law governs federal employees. State or local employees are subject to the same state regulations as private workers or a special state statute. Some occupations, like railroad workers and seamen, have separate regulations.
The workers' compensation system helps workers who get hurt on the job. It's different for federal employees, special occupations, and state and local workers, but the goal is the same. It's about helping injured workers get better and ensuring they have what they need while they can't work. If there are problems or questions, legal help is there to make sure everything is fair and proper.
In this article, we'll explore how the workers' compensation system helps different types of public employees.
Federal Employees and Workers' Compensation
A unique set of rules covers federal employees. If an injured employee working for the federal government has a workplace injury, the Department of Labor steps in to help. The injured worker can get medical treatment and disability benefits if they can't work for a while.
Federal employees have different programs for federal workers' compensation benefits. The Federal Employee's Compensation Act (FECA) is an important relevant law. This Act allows recovery of benefits when a federal employee is either disabled or killed as a result of an injury or disease on the job. FECA is available to federal employees regardless of the time on the job or the type of position.
Benefits include medical expenses and compensation for wage loss. Vocational rehabilitation services are also offered to partially disabled employees. The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) manages federal benefits. The benefits come out of the Employees' Compensation Fund.
There are special compensation payments for permanent total disability and permanent partial disability. If the work injury is severe and leads to death, the dependents of the worker can get death benefits. These concepts are the same across the country because of federal law.
Special Occupations and Workers' Compensation
Some jobs have special rules for workers' compensation. For example, firefighters and police officers may have different benefits. Sometimes, an occupational disease or job-related health problem will have different rules. For example, a firefighter might get different benefits for lung problems.
These special rules can include things like more medical benefits. It can also include wage replacement based on their average weekly wage. Workers' comp can also provide retraining if the injured worker can't return to the same job as before.
Special types of employees may bring claims for federal workers' compensation benefits. For example, the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) gives special protections. FELA provides recovery for employees in interstate transportation, such as railroad workers.
The Jones Act gives similar protections for seamen. The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act gives similar benefits to longshoremen. It also covers others engaged in maritime activities on navigable waters.
Other laws that play a role in the compensation of employees include the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Death on the High Seas Act, and the Defense Base Act (for employees working on military bases or public works projects outside the U.S.).
State and Local Employees
State law covers state and local employees. These laws differ in each state. The rules usually include medical care, temporary total disability benefits, and other help for work injury or job injuries. If a state or local worker gets a permanent disability, they might get a lump sum payment. They could also get other permanent disability benefits through disability payments. Some states also include things like utilization reviews. This helps ensure the medical treatment is right. A treating physician may help decide what kind of work the injured worker can do later.
State workers' compensation statutes determine whether state or local government employees get covered. The easiest way to learn the details of your coverage is to look for the mandatory workers' compensation poster at your workplace. Most states require these get posted in an employee common area. Here are samples from California and Texas. The sign details your coverage and provides contact information for questions and filing a claim. If you're unable to locate the poster, contact your employer.
If your state employs you, contact your state's human resources or employee management department. In California, for example, you would contact the California Department of Human Resources. In Florida, the Department of Management Services regulates state employee benefits. The same principle applies if your employer is the local county or city government. Contact the human resources department. Or contact the legal department. If you're a labor union member, contact your union representative.
Most state statutes prohibit workers' compensation benefits payments to state officials. Generally, if a person exercises the state's power, they are an official. They are ineligible to collect state workers' compensation benefits.
If you are a police officer or firefighter, many states have specific statutes for you. These statutes may also apply to uniformed sanitation workers. Many states have separate, specific provisions for these types of employees. These provisions clarify which workers' compensation benefits and requirements apply to these workers.
Legal Help for Public Employees
Sometimes, understanding the workers' compensation law is challenging. You may have many questions. You might be curious about things like earning capacity and medical bills. You might wonder whether part-time or independent contractors get the same help. Some people might need to talk to a lawyer who knows about workers' compensation cases. These lawyers can help with things like written notice to the insurance company.
Lawyers can also help with problems with employers. They can also help you understand impairment. These lawyers can also help with Social Security disability. They can communicate with health care providers or medical providers to ensure you get the help you deserve.
An injured worker might sometimes need legal help to get the right benefits. Lawyers can help check your eligibility for workers' compensation claims. They can also investigate reimbursement for expenses. They will advocate for how much money a person should get.
Legal help can make sure that an injured worker gets the right benefits. This can include checking things like workers' compensation coverage. Or they can help you understand how a medical condition fits in with the labor code.
A local workers' comp attorney can review your case, explain the law, and help you decide what to do next.
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.
Contact a qualified workers' compensation attorney to make sure your rights are protected.