Workers’ compensation insurance ensures that employees who are injured on the job can receive benefits to cover the cost of any necessary medical treatments. Although the program is overseen by the Department of Labor, every state has its own workers’ compensation laws, and all states require that most employers provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. Although some smaller companies and certain types of employees are exempt from these workers’ compensation requirements, the vast majority of employees and injuries should be covered under the program. Nonetheless, it is important to look into workers’ compensation cases in more detail to understand exactly how the system works and what types of injuries are covered.
State Workers’ Compensation Laws
Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, which means that it is essential that all employers and employees are aware of the local laws in order to understand their rights and obligations. Most states specify that workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory, except in cases where the employer has only a small number of employees. In some cases, any company with more than one employee is required to furnish workers’ compensation insurance, while other states specify that it is mandatory only for companies with three or five employees.
Types of Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is designed to cover all work-related injuries. Nonetheless, each state has its own definitions about what actually constitutes ‘work related.’ Typically, almost any injury that occurs on the job will be covered—no matter whether the accident and injury was caused by negligence on behalf of the employee or the employer. That being said, if the employer proves that the injury was self-inflicted or that the employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the employee automatically loses their right to file a claim and receive compensation.
One of the major benefits of workers’ compensation for employers is that it means employees automatically give up their right to file a negligent injury lawsuit against the company. Although employees can still sue any negligent third parties for their injuries, they generally have no legal recourse to file a suit against their employer.
The general definition for work-related injury is any accident that arises out of employment or occurs in the course of employment. Unfortunately, this definition is quite vague, and there are a wide number of situations where an employer or the workers’ compensation insurance provider may attempt to deny a claim. When this happens, the employer will usually need to seek the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney in order to argue their case and hopefully convince the insurance provider of the validity of the claim.
Benefits Provided by Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to provide monetary benefits to cover the full costs of any medical care, treatments and rehabilitation necessary to fully recover from the injury. In addition, employees are entitled to compensation for lost wages. However, these wage-loss benefits generally only cover around half or two-thirds of the employees weekly wages. In addition, workers who suffer a fatal injury are entitled to receive survivor’s benefits for their immediate family members.
Employer and Employee Obligations in Event of Injury
Employers and employees both have various obligations that they must fulfill in the event of any work-related injury. In this sense, employers are advised to take every injury claim seriously and take the proper steps to file a claim even if they question the validity of the claim. Employers are required to assist their employee in the event of an injury, informing them of the process for filing a workers’ compensation claim and ensuring that the employee receives prompt medical attention and treatment. Generally, the employer is expected to pay for these treatments out of their own pocket if necessary until such time as a workers’ compensation claim can be filed. In addition to providing the employee with prompt medical care, the employer is also required to fully document the injury and make sure that the employee files an injury report.
When an employee is injured on the job, they are required by law to notify their employer promptly. Each state has its own set time period that employees must give notification of their injury, and if the employee fails to notify their employer within this period, they automatically waive their right to file a workers’ compensation claim.
The fact that each state has its own unique workers’ compensation laws means the system for filing a claim can vary dramatically from state to state. In fact, an injury that is covered under workers’ compensation in one state won’t necessarily be covered in another state. For this reason, it is recommended that both employers and employees seek the assistance of attorney immediately following a work-related injury in order to ensure that everything is done properly and the employee receives the medical treatment guaranteed to them by law.