Rehabilitation Rights of Injured Workers
Workplace accidents can happen to anyone at any time. They can even occur in the safest environments and are more common than you might think. Job injuries can be minor or more serious, such as a car accident leading to more severe injuries. Regardless, it is crucial to understand your rehabilitation rights as an employee. These rights exist through workers' compensation insurance.
Workers' compensation insurance benefits workers who have experienced a work-related injury. The primary aim is to help them return to their job. If the employee can't return to the same job because of their injury, the aim is to help them get a different job.
The following article discusses rehabilitation in workers' compensation.
Types of Services Injured Workers May Receive
A worker injured on the job might be eligible for several services. These include:
- Medical Treatment: The insurance company usually pays for all medical care. This medical care must relate to the work injury. This includes hospital stays, surgeries, and ongoing treatment. Sometimes, workers may get paid back for their payments to the medical provider.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits: Sometimes, workers can't return to work. This might be for a certain period of time due to a work-related injury. They might receive temporary total disability benefits in these situations.
- Permanent Partial or Total Disability Benefits: Sometimes, injuries result in permanent impairments. In this event, workers may qualify for partial disability, or they can be eligible for total disability benefits. This depends on the severity of the impairment. Permanent disability means the impairment will last the rest of your life.
- Death Benefits: Sometimes, a worker may die of an injury. If this happens, their dependents may receive death benefits.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: In some cases, the employee can't return to their old job. This might be because their injury is so bad it prevents the worker from doing their old job. They may receive assistance finding help and training for a new job. These services are at the expense of their employer's workers' compensation carrier.
For more important information about workers' comp, visit FindLaw's Workers' Compensation FAQ.
Workers' Compensation: Vocational Rehabilitation
Vocational rehabilitation rules vary by state. This means the amount and type of vocational rehabilitation might be different. Some of the services which an injured worker may get include:
- On-the-job training
- Transferable skills analysis and testing
- Resume and job application completion services
- Interview skills and techniques
- Labor market surveys
- Job analyses
- Job search help
- Wage assessment evaluations
- Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling
- Ergonomics assessments
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasonable accommodation help
- Medical case management
- Education and Tuition payments for retraining
The vocational rehabilitation that an injured party may receive depends on their situation. There are statutory and regulatory limitations.
Responsibilities of Employees
Following a workplace injury, employees have specific responsibilities. These responsibilities include immediately reporting the injury to their employer and seeking medical treatment as soon as possible. Workers should also file a workers' compensation claim as soon as possible. This claim will notify the employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier.
In many states, the only employee responsibility is that the employee must accept it. The employee must cooperate with the job training efforts. They have to make a reasonable attempt to return to suitable employment. Other states have different types of conditions. In some states, for example, injured employees are not required to undergo rehabilitation.
The employee should cooperate with the rehabilitation service providers. If they don't, the workers' compensation carrier may reduce their benefits. They could also suspend their benefits altogether for failing to cooperate.
Responsibilities of Employers
Employers also have critical responsibilities after a workplace or auto accident. Employers or their workers' compensation carriers must fulfill statutory and regulatory responsibilities. They must ensure their workers' compensation coverage is adequate. In the event of a personal injury, they must also file an insurance claim and assist the injured employee with accessing their workers' compensation benefits.
The workers' compensation laws vary by state. For example, in some states, an employer must offer job counseling services to any injured employee whose injury resulted in 60 days of lost time from work. The offer must be made within five days after reaching that threshold. If the employee sustains a back injury, they only need to lose 30 workdays. In other states, an employer must provide rehabilitation within 120 days. This is if the injury resulted in a loss of suitable gainful employment.
In some states, an employer may be required to pay for tuition. They might be also responsible for living expenses and room and board. They can also cover childcare expenses, travel expenses, and regular wage loss benefits. At the same time, an employee participates in specific vocational rehabilitation programs.
In some states, only qualified individuals can provide job training help to injured workers. For example, the following individuals may provide vocational rehabilitation services in some jurisdictions:
- Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRCs)
- Certified Disability Management Specialists (CDMSs)
- Certified Case Managers (CCMs)
If you are unsure about your state's laws, you should talk to an attorney.
More Questions About Rehabilitation Rights? Talk to a Lawyer Today
Understanding your rehabilitation rights can be complex. This is especially true when dealing with the strain of a job injury. It may be time to seek legal advice. Legal professionals can answer your questions related to your workers' comp rights. If you have questions about how to handle medical bills or medical expenses, speak to an attorney.
A workers' compensation lawyer can guide your workers' compensation case. They can help you understand your rights and ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Lawyers can also tell you about social security disability benefits, if applicable. They can review your eligibility and guide you through the process.
Speak with a workers' compensation attorney near you today.
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Contact a qualified workers' compensation attorney to make sure your rights are protected.