An injury at work could jeopardize your ability to support yourself or your family. Before you panic, you need to inform your employer of your injury. A responsible employer will demand you get medical care. Next, you need to get yourself to a physician who can determine the extent of your injury.
Assuming your work-related injury is substantial enough to keep you out of work for a specific length of time (usually 7 consecutive days or more), you should have wage protection from your employer’s Workers’ Compensation policy.
Depending on the state in which you live, the law might require your employer to carry such coverage for the benefit of all employees. Assuming you have little to no experience with Workers’ Compensation, you need to know some of your basic rights, which you’ll find in the next section.
Your Rights Under Workers’ Compensation Law
First, you need to keep in mind that an employee’s rights under Workers’ Compensation law will vary from one state to the next. The following information is generic and generally applicable in every state. Your basic rights include:
-Having access to medical care
-Receiving disability compensation (up to 66.67%) of your wages for the duration of the disability
-Access to rehabilitation care
-Training and retraining for a return to the workplace
-Access to a modified work schedule, if a physician prescribes
-Survivor benefits for your family in case of death
-Potential entitlement to permanent partial disability benefits while injured
You have these rights regardless of who is at fault for your injury. However, some states do allow employer exceptions. Common reasons why you might not qualify for Workers’ Compensation include:
-The injury was intentionally self-inflicted
-The injury took place during the commission of a crime
-The injury took place during a physical confrontation for which the applicant was at fault
-The injury took place while the applicant was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
If you don’t fall under any exception, the law will protect your Workers’ Compensation rights.
What if Your Employer Doesn’t Offer Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Workers’ Compensation is a compromise between employers and employees. It protects employees from losing all of their wages during their disability period, while also protecting employers from injury-related lawsuits their employees might file. By carrying Workers’ Compensation insurance, employers get protection from litigation, though, in some states, instances exist where an employer can still become subject to a lawsuit.
If an employer decides to not carry Workers’ Compensation coverage, they expose themselves to litigation for any work-related injury an employee might incur. If you sustained an injury at work and did not receive access to Workers’ Compensation, you need to contact an attorney immediately. You should look for a reputable firm like Schwartz Law Firm that specializes in Injury Compensation.
Claim Disputes With Employers
When an employer is hit with a valid Workers’ Compensation claim, it increases what the insurance company refers to as the employer’s “experience rating.” A higher experience rating often results in the employer paying higher premiums. For this reason, employers should have the motivation to contest injury claims.
If your employer has decided to contest the validity of your claim, the case could be eligible for mediation with an impartial third party. In such a hearing, both you and your employer would state your respective cases regarding the injury. The mediator would ultimately decide whether or not your case qualifies for Workers’ Compensation.
Your Workers’ Compensation Gets Denied
The insurance company could deny your Workers’ Compensation claim. This might happen if the insurance company disputes your injury, the cause of your injury, or the notion you cannot return to work.
If the insurance company should deny your claim for any reason, you should consider contacting an attorney. You might also consider contacting an attorney if a physician states you can return to work but you believe the injury would interfere with your ability to work.
You should be particularly cautious if your employer chose the physician. In such a case, you are entitled to a second opinion from a physician of your choosing.
Protect Yourself and Your Wages
If you get hurt at work, you need to protect yourself from lost wages. Hopefully, your employer carries Workers’ Compensation and the process goes smoothly. If for any reason you believe anyone wrongfully denied you access to compensation, this is not a fight you want to undertake on your own. Choose to seek the advice of an injury attorney right away.