Workers’ compensation insurance provides medical benefits and compensation for lost wages to employees injured on the job.
If you’ve suffered an injury at work, you may find yourself wondering, "what is workers' compensation, and how will it help me?" Workers' compensation is a resource that can help replace your lost income. Here’s the main things to know about it:
Workers' compensation is what its name implies. It’s an arrangement to provide compensation to workers who suffer an injury on the job, or a job-related illness that’s severe enough to prevent them from performing their job duties.
The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) is the primary federal law dealing with workers' compensation. It only covers employees of the federal government, and makes them ineligible for workers' compensation through state or local governments.
FECA covers injuries that occur at work, as well as work-related diseases that develop over time. The Department of Labor is responsible for administering FECA benefits.
These benefits cover medical expenses related to the illness or injury, as well as any wages that you might lose due to a temporary or permanent disability.
If a close family member who worked for the federal government died while on the job, you may be eligible for survivor's benefits.
Keep in mind that FECA does not cover all federal employees. There are separate federal workers' compensation laws that apply to certain types of federal workers, such as coal miners, longshoremen, railroad workers, and harbor workers. Members of the US military likewise are not covered by FECA.
Each state has its own workers' compensation laws, and you can learn more through your state's department of labor.
Laws regarding workers' compensation may vary widely from state to state. For example, in Alabama, the state has loose regulations that allow individual businesses to determine for themselves how they insure their liability for workers' compensation. Conversely, states like California have stricter regulations.
Some states don’t require all employers to carry workers' compensation insurance. In Delaware and other states, for instance, only businesses with one or more employees need insurance. Also, some businesses that can self-insure don’t have to purchase insurance from an outside provider.
While specific laws are different from state to state, there are three general guidelines that determine whether or not a person is eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits:
The illness or injury must be work-related.
The employer must carry workers' compensation insurance, or be legally required to do so. If your employer doesn’t have insurance, but is required to carry it, you’re still entitled to benefits.
You must be an employee of the company whose workers' compensation insurance you expect to use. This means that volunteers and independent contractors aren’t entitled to benefits.
You may have noticed that above guidelines don’t mention fault. That’s because you’re usually still eligible for benefits even if the incident that caused your injury was mostly your fault.
Finally, remember that some states don’t require all employees to be covered by workers' compensation insurance. For example, farm workers or domestic workers may not be eligible for benefits in every part of the country.
The process for filing a workers' compensation claim isn’t the same in every state. However, there are some general procedures that you should follow:
Make sure your employer knows about your injury or illness, as well as how it happened.
Get needed medical attention.
Fill out workers' compensation claim forms. Some states have a workers' compensation agency you will have to file the forms with.
If you think it’s possible that your employer will challenge your claim, or if you just want to make sure you cover all your bases, you may want to speak to a lawyer who is familiar with workers' compensation laws in your state.
There are a couple of ways in which the workers' compensation insurance agency may choose to pay you: with a lump sum, or with regular monthly payments.
If you're offered a lump sum, give the matter serious thought before you accept. If you anticipate a long recovery time, it may be wiser to take monthly payments because these can last for as long as it takes for you to fully recover. If you feel you are close to being able to return to work, a lump sum may be the wiser choice. The amount of money you receive is likely to depend on the severity and nature of your illness or injury.
Workers' compensation is a valuable resource for people who suffer a work-related illness or injury. If you've been injured on the job, learning about workers' compensation will help you handle your situation appropriately.
Did you have a work injury that was immediately followed by a positive drug or alcohol test? If so, the work comp insurance may deny your Iowa workers’ compensation claim. Here's what you can do to fight back.
Immediately report the injury. Employers will always fight a case that is not immediately reported. If not documented, it gives the company ammunition to allege that the accident did not occur on the date and time later claimed and that the injury actually occurred off the job. Some employers will fire employees for failure to timely report an injury. In addition, many many times employers will tell employees that if the accident isn't reported, then a claim cannot be pursued. This could not be further from the truth! Ohio law allows a claim to be filed within one year of the date of injury. Obviously, a reported accident is more likely to be covered than an unreported accident. However, many workers experience aches and pains throughout their shift that typically go away. There are occasions where that simple muscle strain thought to be nothing at the time could later be determined to be something much more serious, such as a herniated disc or a rotator cuff tear in the shoulder. This is why I advise people at my seminars "when it doubt, file a report." In addition, there are occasions that an injury doesn't happen with a specific event, rather gradually over the course of time. These "wear and tear" injuries are covered in Ohio and most other states. Some of the conditions that are wear and tear type claims are carpal tunnel syndrome, impingement syndrome of the shoulder, ulnar neuropathy and other hand, wrist and shoulder disorders. My best advice to workers that experience symptoms of hand, wrist, knee, ankle or shoulder pain to complete an incident report at that point in time where you start believing you will require medical attention. Again, not all injuries involve a specific on the job accident. In order to best protect yourself and your family, seek to complete the report as soon as possible after the pain starts. Obtain coworkers statements. Request anyone that was near you when the incident occurred to complete a statement confirming what they know and saw. Too many times, even after completing an incident report, the employer will somehow lose the report or fail to offer it to you or your attorney. Having a witness statement confirms your version of the events and another way to get your claim covered. Seek immediate medical attention. Seeking medical attention soon after the injury not only starts you on the road to recovery but also confirms that the incident occurred as you described, Make sure you are consistent in your description. Many employers will attempt to discredit injured workers where the description of accident on the injury report is inconsistent with how the injury was described to your physician. Most likely, you would have told the same story but medical providers are busy and may not fully listen to your story. Thus, it is very useful to require medical personnel to read back what they documented to ensure that it is accurate. This is another way to make sure your claim gets allowed! File a claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. In order to obtain benefits for your injury, a claim application must be filed. As noted above, the application must be filed within one year of the date of injury. Filing the application starts the process of obtaining a claim number and ultimately a determination as to whether your injury is valid. Seek legal advice. Most attorneys that represent injured workers provide free initial legal consultations. Seeking advice doesn't mean hiring an attorney. If you are unsure about what to do and want to know your legal rights in your claim, the best place to go is an attorney that specializes in this area of practice. You are under no obligation to sign with that attorney. Most lawyers will gladly answer your questions and concerns about your injury and what to expect. Many times, after listening to a potential client, I advise them that they do not need an attorney at the present time but of course leave the door open to return should they run into problems with their claim. My firm, Schaffer and Associates, collectively has over 50 years of experience representing those injured and disabled and will gladly discuss any questions, concerns or problems you may have with the pursuit of your claim!
Let’s face it, accidents happen. Regardless of which industry you work in, there’s always a chance of getting hurt or even killed on the job. The severity of the injury often depends on the industry you work in. Here are some of the common workplace injuries: 1. Muscle strain Muscle strain injuries can happen anywhere, but they’re particularly prevalent in industries involving heavy labor and even in retail settings. Luckily, muscle strains are one of the easiest injuries to avoid with basic training on how to lift heavy objects properly. 2. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) RSIs are becoming increasingly common. Those who do repetitive tasks, such as using a keyboard, can suffer from RSIs. One problem is that employers often don’t treat RSIs as seriously as they should. To help reduce the chances of their employees suffering from RSIs, employers should encourage the use of ergonomic equipment and taking breaks during the workday. 3. Slips, trips and falls These kinds of injuries can also happen anywhere. All it takes is a spilled drink or rainy day to create a slippery floor. Likewise, it’s easy to trip over uneven surfaces if you’re not paying attention or get distracted. Falls from heights are especially common for workers who must climb ladders like roofers and construction crew. 4. Cuts and lacerations Regardless of where you work, it’s possible to cut yourself on the job. Cuts and lacerations can range from minor (like a bad papercut) to severe (box cutter injuries or knife slips). Poor training, failing to follow safety protocols and inadequate safety measures are all contributors for these kinds of common workplace injuries. 5. Crashes and collisions Anyone who drives a vehicle or heavy machinery for their job is at higher risk for being involved in a crash. For this reason, it’s important for employers to have strict seat belt regulations as well as any other appropriate safety measures in place. These are just a few of the possible injuries you could face on the job. If you’re involved in a workplace injury , reach out to our experts for more information on filing a claim in Montana.
Remember, an injured worker is going through an unsettling time, which can be extremely stressful. Merriam-Webster defines empathy as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” As an attorney, it’s important to be able to empathize with your clients. This is especially true in cases where your client was injured, like a workers’ compensation claim. In these kinds of cases, it’s typically not just enough to put yourself in your clients’ shoes or to understand what they’re going through. You also need to genuinely want to help them through their situation. Remember, an injured worker is going through an unsettling time, which can be extremely stressful. When working with a workers’ compensation case, my firm emphasizes the importance of being empathetic with each client that walks through our doors, from the very first meeting to the final communication. Why do we go above and beyond in this way? Because something as simple as human empathy can go a long way in helping put clients at ease during a really difficult time in their life. Advice for flexing your empathy muscle Tip #1: Be an active listener Not only do we listen to our clients from the first interaction and ask them about their workplace accident, we also listen to their story as a whole. Don’t forget to pay attention to subtle emotional cues. You can pick up on a lot of unspoken information by noticing body language and what goes unsaid. The client’s surroundings can also tell you a lot about how they are coping with their recovery. Tip #2: Be an empathetic communicator Effective communication often includes mirroring your client’s words back to them in your words. This practice helps reassure anxious clients by showing them that you’re really listening, making them more likely to open up to you and offer more detailed information about what’s going on in their life. Tip #3: Be a compassionate advocate Being a compassionate advocate means being there whole-heartedly for your client. Taking this approach will help to establish trust between you and them, and it will help your client feel more comfortable with opening up. This allows you to be a more effective litigator on their behalf. Empathy takes a lot of practice. Start flexing your empathy muscle right now and see how it affects your clients and others around you. It has certainly done wonders for us.
Injured workers have the RIGHT to file a claim; the RIGHT to choose their own doctor; and the RIGHT to decide who, if anyone, may accompany them to the doctor. Do you want to know about all your rights and benefits? For a Free Workers' Compensation consultation in Olympia or Centralia, call (360) 736-1301 or visit CentraliaLaw.com
Why You Should Talk to a Workers' Comp Lawyer The ultimate goal of a worker’s comp lawyer is to represent you to make sure you get treated fairly by your employer and insurance company and get compensated fairly for your injuries. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help. They can handle things like gathering medical records, taking depositions, doing legal research, drafting any motions or other requests, and will represent you in any legal proceedings. One of the biggest reasons to hire a worker’s comp lawyer is that compensation laws are complex. You May Not Understand Workers' Comp Law Chances are, you aren’t an expert in worker’s comp laws. And unless you need to be, why would you really know the ins and outs of them? The reality is that they are extremely complex, vary by state, and vary by industry. An experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in these types of cases knows the laws, knows what an employer can and can’t do, and can help you navigate the process. Your Employer May Deny Your Claim There are instances when an employer may deny your worker’s comp claim. Even though they have insurance to cover your expenses, employers don’t want too many claims, as that means their premiums will likely increase. If your employer refuses to cooperate or denies your claim, you’ll need a lawyer to advocate for you. A worker’s comp lawyer can appeal the denial for you and negotiate with your employer and the insurance company. The Insurance Company Will Try to Settle Businesses and insurance companies are concerned with their bottom line. And in the case of a worker’s comp claim, they want to pay out as little money as possible. The insurance company will often try to settle with you, often offering you only a fraction of what you are entitled to. If the settlement offer is extremely low or if your employer outright denies your claim, you may need to file a lawsuit. You May Need to File a Lawsuit If you aren’t getting anywhere with your employer and the insurance company, your attorney may need to file a lawsuit. Many people simply give up at this point, accepting whatever the insurance company offers or just accepting the denial and moving on. You shouldn’t give up though, and continue fighting for what is rightfully owed to you. An attorney will prepare the necessary documents to file a lawsuit and then handle the litigation process. Most worker’s comp attorneys only get paid if they win the case, so you can rest assured that they take cases that they think they can win.
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by attorney James Riley Hodder
If your insurer is offering a lump sum settlement for your workers' compensation case, following the steps in this guide will help you make the right decision.