Written by attorney Joseph Maus

Workers' Compensation Facts and Answers

Worker's Compensation was founded in Wisconsin in 1911 and all 48 then-existing states had a form of worker's comp on their law books by 1948. The system is actually based on a German system started by Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck. He introduced a compulsory state run accident compensation system in 1884 and the program was financed by workers and employers. The U.S. version of Worker's Compensation (originally called Workman's Compensation but changed in the 1970s to a more gender-neutral name) is the oldest social insurance program in the United States. It was created to compensate for the increasing amount of workers that were injured on the job as industry grew in the U.S. Before Worker's Compensation was put in place, the only recourse for an injured worker was to hire a lawyer and prove malice or negligence on the part of the employer. Most workers didn't make enough money to hire a lawyer in those days, and many people did not even know that attorneys could be used to help them win an injury case. Even if the injured worker did hire an attorney, it often took years for a case to be settled, leaving the worker to take care of his family and pay his bills while trying to recover in the meantime. Ultimately, there was such a burden of indigent, injured workers that it became a drain on society to support them. Worker's Compensation laws were passed so the injured worker could get some relief regardless of fault. It is a fact - worker's compensation is still needed today. Even with the advent of monitoring systems like OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act), there were still over 60,000 workplace illnesses or injuries in 2006 in the state of Florida and almost 400 fatalities. In 2007, there were 362 workers compensation deaths in Florida. It's a good thing, then, that Worker's Comp covers 98% of workers! The primary goal of the law is to get an injured worker back to work as soon as possible, even in a limited capacity, so they do not become a burden on the state.

  • An interesting fact is that worker's compensation laws are established by each individual state - there is no Federal control or regulation over worker's comp laws from state to state. So, if you are injured on the job, the first thing you should do (after visiting a doctor or hospital) is to consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney in your state to get facts and answers about your case.

  • In the state of Florida, work accident compensation laws have strict timelines and rules for reporting an injury claim and for how and when the employee can obtain medical treatment.

  • Did you know that you are entitled to compensation for mileage to and from a doctor's office or medical facility? The insurance company has to pay this as part of your claim.

  • In Florida, you are only allowed to change the treating physician once in a case. If you unknowingly change to a doctor who doesn't want to provide you with additional care or benefits, you are most likely stuck with them,so make any physician change carefully!

If you have a work-related injury, you may be entitled to compensation, but it is best to consult an attorney who knows about worker's compensation facts . They can guide you through the trickier aspects of it and can help you get the funds you deserve. You are most likely entitled to benefits for injuries such as:

  • a disease contracted from exposure to toxins as part of normal working conditions.

  • an injury that results from physical or mental strain due to work-related duties or stress. This includes disabling mental conditions related to job demands or harassment.

  • injuries occurring during breaks, lunch hours, and work related events such as the company holiday party.

  • preexisting conditions that the workplace accelerates or aggravates.

  • injuries that occur on the workplace property, such as tripping and falling while in the company parking lot.

If you have been injured on the job, be sure to:

  • report your injury to your employer in writing (keep a copy for your records).

  • have your employer fill out a "First Report of Injury". The injured worker is required to sign the Report so make sure the information on the Report is correct. If your employer will not

fill out the Report, you can contact the workers compensation insurance company directly to ensure one is filled out.

  • don't wait to report your injury. Report the injury to your employer the same day it happens.

  • don't rely on your employer or their insurance company to be "on your side". Check out the facts of your worker's compensation with an attorney who is experienced in worker's comp - your employer and their insurance company want to settle everything for as little money as possible and will be looking out for themselves, not you!

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