Created to protect workers who are injured on the job, workers’ compensation programs have helped workers over the years gain the financial resources necessary to help offset medical expenses, lost wages, and other aspects related to their workplace injuries. However, due to the many complexities associated with these programs, the vast majority of employees know little about their specifics. As a result, they often fail to take advantage of the benefits associated with the programs, and also fall victim to misinformation from employers and insurance companies. When this happens, benefits they should be entitled to are often denied for various reasons. To make sure you fully understand your rights under workers’ compensation, here are five legal facts to keep in mind.
Report Injuries Immediately
If you are injured on the job, report your injuries to your immediate supervisor as quickly as possible. By doing so and having your injuries examined by medical personnel, your employer and their insurance company will not be able to state your injuries did not occur at work. Along with this, you will be able to receive immediate treatment for any injuries received, which can be crucial in situations where head injuries have occurred.
Lost Wages and Medical Bills
By filing a workers’ compensation claim as quickly as possible, employees give themselves a much better chance of receiving financial compensation for lost wages and medical bills. In these situations, payment will be in the form of Temporary Partial Disability or Temporary Total Disability, depending upon the extent of the injuries and the determination of a doctor as to when the employee will be able to return to work. While these payments generally are not equal to the employee’s salary, they are in most cases 60-70% of the total. Along with this, other benefits, such as vocational rehabilitation and retraining, may also be covered.
Workers Cannot Sue Employers
For employers that provide workers’ compensation programs for their employees, they do so as a trade-off to not being sued. Thus, once a worker files a workers’ compensation claim, they are no longer able to bring a lawsuit against their employer for any injuries sustained due to their accident. However, there can be exceptions made in some cases. For example, if it is determined by investigators an employer was reckless or had intentional action to hurt the employee, a lawsuit may be allowed under these circumstances.
Not All Employers Have Workers’ Compensation
Since laws vary from state to state regarding the administration of workers’ compensation, it is possible your employer may not offer this coverage. Generally, a number of factors come into play in helping to determine whether an employer will provide this coverage. Some of the most common include the type of business, types of work employees do at the business, and the number of workers a company has in its employment. As an example, many states do not require employers to provide workers’ compensation programs for employees who are considered to be seasonal help, which often applies to many agricultural businesses and farms. Along with this, volunteers who are at a company are usually not covered by these programs as well. Therefore, it is always best to gain an understanding of your state’s laws regarding these programs.
Employees Often Face Intimidation
While workers’ compensation programs are aimed at helping employees receive compensation while they recover from their injuries, the fact remains many employers take a dim view of these programs. In fact, many will actively try to convince employees to not file a claim, believing it will look bad on the company. Along with this, many insurance providers for companies will attempt to find evidence to use against employees filing these claims, or will try to downplay their injuries as having occurred elsewhere or not being as serious as stated. These tactics often catch many employees off-guard, and unfortunately results in many choosing not to file claims to gain compensation for which they are entitled.
By keeping these tips in mind and also making sure your claim is handled by an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who specializes solely in workers’ compensation claims, it is often possible to overcome various obstacles and file a successful workers’ comp claim.