What is Workers' Compensation?
Workers' Compensation is insurance that, by law, an employer is required to carry in case an employee is injured on the job, becomes ill due to circumstances surrounding their job, or dies due to a job-related injury illness. Benefits include medical expenses, lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits.
Workers' Comp exists both as a way to benefit injured workers and as a way to protect employers. Before Workers' Comp laws existed, serious injury to an employee could bankrupt an employer due to the employee being able to sue their employer. Workers' Compensation is a no-fault insurance system. Negligence on the part of workers or employers is not an issue in paying benefits.
Who is responsible for providing the benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act?
By law, the employer is responsible for providing Workers' Compensation insurance. In some instances the employer provides benefits directly by being self-insured; otherwise, the employer provides the benefit indirectly through a Workers' Compensation insurance company. A worker cannot be charged for benefits provided or any portion of their employer's Workers' Compensation insurance premium.
What injuries are covered by the Act?
Any worker who has sustained an injury arising out of and in the course of their employment has a potential Workers' Compensation claim. As long as your injury is job-related, it's covered. You are covered if you are injured while traveling on business, doing a work-related errand or even attending a required business-related social function. Any injury or illness that occurs due to employment is considered a Workers' Compensation injury. Under Workers' Compensation law, you will receive help if you are injured no matter who was at fault. Some types of Workers' Compensation injuries are: broken/fractured bones, back problems/pain, knee problems/injuries, grip loss, heart attacks, hypertension, wrist injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome, burns, shoulder pain, neck pain, headaches, etc. You may be entitled to benefits even if you are still working.
Does an injury have to have a specific date of onset in order to be covered?
Your injury does not need to be caused by a specific accident such as a fall. Many workers receive compensation for repetitive trauma injuries such as back problems that are caused by overuse or misuse over a long period of time in the performance of their normal work activity. You may also be compensated for some illnesses and diseases that are the gradual result of work conditions such as lung disease. Due to the fact that symptoms with these types of injuries reveal themselves over a period of time, the worker might not associate the eventual diagnosis of the injury as being work-related.
What should I do if I get injured on the job?
Seek emergency medical attention if needed. Immediately report your injury to your employer. An injured worker must report any accident to their employer or any employee of the employer who is in a supervisory capacity (foreman, superintendent, company nurse, etc.). If an injury occurs over time (for example, a breathing problem or carpel tunnel syndrome), you must report your condition soon after you discover and realize that it is caused by your work. Your employer will provide you with a claim form on which you must describe your injury and how, when, and where it occurred. Make sure you save copies of all correspondence with your employer, its insurance carrier and your doctor concerning your Workers' Comp claim.
How long after an injury do I have to report it to my employer?
Immediately report your injury or illness to your supervisor.
Can I lose my job because of a Workers' Compensation injury?
Laws prohibit your employer from discharging or discriminating against you because of your Workers' Compensation injury. If it is proven that an employer fires or forces to resign an injured worker in retaliation for filing a Workers' Compensation claim, the worker could file a civil lawsuit against his employer seeking damages in court.
My employer has denied my claim. What do I do?
Contact our law firm. The consultation is free, and we can fully advise you of your rights after reviewing your case with you.
Do I need an attorney?
You have the right to be represented by an attorney for your work-related injury. Your attorney will assist you in seeing that your benefits are properly protected. Workers' Compensation laws are constantly changing and an attorney with an active Workers' Compensation practice will be able to help you protect your rights. Attorney's fees for representing an injured employee are usually paid out of the settlement or award. These are a percentage of the monetary recovery awarded to the injured employee. There is no fee charged against the injured employee for recovery of a medical bill.
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