Worker’s Compensation Laws

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What happens when you are hurt on the job? Typically, worker’s compensation laws will come into play. Worker’s compensation laws are designed to protect people who are injured on the job. At the same time, these laws also protect employers from liability for work-related injuries. Finally, worker’s compensation laws can also function to provide benefits to beneficiaries of those killed from work-related incidents. Worker’s compensation laws are so complex and protect so many parties, we wonder how to specifically apply the law when you sustain an injury as an employee in the workplace.

Why We’re Asking:

If you are unable to work or your life is altered due to a harmful incident on the job, you need to know how to utilize worker’s compensation laws. Monetary rewards and monthly salary compensation could become vital if you become disabled while on the job. We hope to learn enough to gain a basic understanding of how to legally proceed after such an accident occurs.

We look to our legal professionals to learn more:

How do worker’s compensation laws work?

What primary action should an injured employee take after sustaining an injury on the job? Seek documentation from a medical professional?

How should you communicate with your employer while looking to recover damages from the injury?

Do you need to hire a lawyer to handle your worker’s compensation case?

How long do worker’s compensation cases usually take to settle?

We’re excited to hear back from our legal professionals. Check back later in the week to see what advice they have to give about worker’s compensation laws!

Post your answers in the comment field below!

7 COMMENTS

  1. Third party liability for on-the-job injuries – Generally, when one is injured on the job, worker’s compensation is seen as the only form of compensation because a worker cannot sue his or her employer if he or she receives workers compensation. However, if the worker was injured by a malfunctioning piece of equipment or machinery, than a worker should seek legal advice regarding a products liability lawsuit. Although a worker is barred from suing their employee who provides worker’s compensation, there is no such bar against a third party who might have contributed towards the injury.

  2. Workman’s compensation laws were enacted at the beginning of the 20th century to protect the worker injured while at work. They were designed as a no fault system to pay medical bills and wages lost while the worker recovered from a work related injury. Workers cannot sue an employer for a job related injury unless the employer has no workman’s compensation insurance. Then the worker has the option of going through the emergency fund or suing the employer.
    The laws have evolved over the years and have become very complex. Many lawyers practice exclusively in this area. It is a recognized legal specialty.
    Always report and injury immediately to the employer and always fill out the required forms. You will usually be sent to a clinic recommended by the employer to evaluate the injury. Always get a witness to verify what happened if there is a witness. “Unwitnessed” injuries are always viewed with suspicion., and are frequently denied.
    The employer has no obligation to hold your job for you while you are out. You can be terminated or laid off during your recovery. The insurance company, not the employer handles the claim. Communication with the employer other than to tell them the status of your recovery, or your probably return to work date is not necessary.
    Minor injuries can be handled without a workman’s compensation lawyer. Serious injuries involving months lost from work, and resulting disabilities need the expertise of a workman’s compensation specialist.
    The workman’s compensation case can’t be settled until the injury is “stable and stationary” and the claimant has reached “maximum medical improvement.”
    If a third party caused your injury, you can proceed with a lawsuit against the third party, but you have a limited time to do that, and you must pay the workman’s compensation benefits back to the compensation insurance carrier at the conclusion of the case.
    To say that workman’s compensations laws are complex is an understatement. If you have a serious work related injury, you should always seek the services of an attorney to guide you in the right direction.
    Leighton Rockafellow
    Tucson, Az.

  3. Workers’ compensation is a benefit created by state and federal statutes. It was designed to ensure that employees injured in the workplace would continue to receive wage replacement and have their medical bills paid after a work injury without concern for any fault they might have toward their own injury. A worker who sustains an injury on the job needs to report their injury to their supervisor immediately (or as soon as practical), as the employer’s obligation to pay benefits does not commence until a work injury is reported. Unlike medical insurance, long term disability, or short term disability, workers’ compensation benefits are uniquely tied to the work relationship; unless the injury arises out of the work relationship, and in the course of the work, it will not be a covered claim under workers’ compensation law. Finding a good work comp lawyer is important to an injured employee. Workers’ compensation laws are complex, subject to many limitations, and need to be documented properly with the employer, the state workers’ compensation division, and the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. Generally, the injured employee’s lawyer will work with the employee’s doctors, physical therapists, and employer to ensure that the employee’s wage loss, disability, medical, and rehabilitation benefits are properly secured. In many cases the lawyer will work toward a settlement of the injured worker’s claim. Seek out the help of a specialized workers’ compensation attorney for specific advice as soon as a work injury occurs. Likewise, employers and their workers’ compensation insurers should obtain advice from specialists in their state’s work comp laws to preserve all defenses and to ensure proper compliance with state workers’ compensation laws.

  4. How do work comp laws work? They allow employees to receive medical
    treatment, at the expense of their employer or the employer’s workers
    compensation insurance carrier, for any injury that happens while performing
    job duties. If you are unable to work due to the injury then you receive
    temporary total disability (TTD) benefits which are 2/3 of your normal wages
    tax free. In some cases you can also receive a settlement for the extent of
    your permanent injuries. For those that can no longer work their old job
    anymore, you can also receive vocational rehabilitation which will help you
    look for a job within your restrictions and/or train you for a new job.

    The primary action an injured worker should take is to focus on their health
    and get immediate medical treatment. It’s incredibly important to be honest
    with your doctor as to how you got hurt, what your job duties are, etc. You
    also need to immediately notify your employer as soon as you know you have a
    work related injury because if you wait too long to tell them you could lose
    your rights to bring a case forever.

    The best way to communicate with your employer depends on your relationship
    with them because you don’t want to have the injury impact your job. But in
    any case you should make sure they are notified in writing, even by a simple
    e-mail, so their can be no dispute as to when you reported the claim. I’ve
    seen many employers deny that they were notified of a work injury because
    they don’t want their insurance rates to go up. As an injured worker, you
    have to look out for you and the best way to do that is put everything in
    writing.

    It’s not mandatory to hire a lawyer, but the truth is that you will always
    do better with one than without. In the least it’s a security blanket in
    case something goes wrong. Insurance companies make money by limiting what
    they pay you. Don’t let their profits come at your expense. Often
    insurance companies will break the law (for example, in Illinois it’s
    illegal for them to talk to your doctor, but they will try to do that any
    way through nurse case managers). If something does go wrong, having a case
    filed with a lawyer will get you action sooner and will also put in place
    someone on your side that is already familiar with your case facts.

    Every case is unique so you can’t predict how long they will last. I advise
    clients to think long term about their health because once we settle we
    can’t get them more medical treatment. I tell them to wait until they are
    discharged by their doctor and back at work for three months before we think
    about a settlement. Until you know you can work without problems, you are
    selling yourself short if you settle.

  5. I don’t do worker’s comp…. but here is a question that should have been
    asked:

    One key questions missing is “What happens if an employee is injured by
    third-party, non-employer while on the job”. Worker’s compensation laws
    circumscribe the amount of money a person can receive for their injuries
    because it is a “no fault” statutory scheme. Typically, the amount of
    money employee is entitled to for his or her injuries is limited by the
    state’s statutes. If, however, another person injured the worker while on
    the job, then he or she may pursue a traditional personal injury claim
    against that person or company *and *seek worker’s compensation benefits at
    the same time.

    For example, if you were in an automobile accident while on the job, you
    can obtain damages from both worker’s compensation and from the person who
    hit you and/or your employers or your uninsured/under-insured insurance
    policy. This allows you to obtain immediately medical attention for your
    injuries through the worker’s compensation system while you pursue your
    claims against the negligent driver and/or the insurance company. Another
    common example is on a construction site or in the oil field. There are
    usually several different companies all working at the same site location.
    If a person from one subcontractor injures an employee from another
    company, then the employee is entitled to worker’s
    compensation benefits and can pursue an injury claim against the person
    (and/or his company) for the injuries he sustained. In other words, if a
    third-party, non-employer was the cause of an on-the-job injury, then the
    injured worker may be entitled to a lot more in damages then what is
    provided by the worker’s compensation system. It should be noted, however,
    that the worker’s compensation system will often have to be repaid for any
    money it paid the employee for the negligence of a non-employee. This
    repayment, however, is often much less than the employee will obtain
    through his claim against the non-employee in a personal injury lawsuit.

  6. It doesn’t matter how the injury occurs or who is at fault. And employers
    are required to have W.C. insurance in California as in most states. In
    exchange for providing workers with “no fault” coverage, including, very
    significantly, for all resulting medical expenses, employers are protected
    from liability lawsuits. An injured worker may not sue the employer for
    negligence. Instead, the worker can (even if he or she is wholly at fault)
    receive W.C. benefits.

    There are occasions, unfortunately, when an employer fails to obtain or
    maintain worker’s comp insurance. Then, if the employer files for
    bankruptcy or abandons the business, a worker may be left without
    protection – but that is unusual.

    There are certain workers who, because of the nature of their work are not
    restricted to worker’s comp but are permitted to sue their employers for
    negligence. Most prominently, merchant mariners (under the Jones Act) and
    railroad workers (under FELA – Federal Employees Labor Act) are both
    granted the right to sue their employer. All other workers are limited to
    recovery of worker’s comp benefits.

    Of course, any injured party may sue a third party (someone or some entity
    other than their employer). Ex: A warehouse worker walks across a
    loading dock and is injured by a flatbed truck spilling cargo. The worker
    may collect workers comp benefits from his employer and also sue the
    flatbed truck owners and operators for their negligence causing injury.
    In such cases, if a recovery is made from the third party, either in
    settlement or a court judgment, that portion of the injured workers damages
    already paid by the comp insurer (including medical expenses, must be
    reimbursed to the comp insurer.
    A worker does not need to retain an attorney to represent him or her
    but, as plaintiffs attorneys in comp cases (in California) are compensated
    with an award from the court above and beyond any judgment or settlement to
    the injured worker, there seems little reason not to retain counsel. this
    decision would depend on many factors including, of course, the workers
    relationship to the employer, probability of future or ongoing employment,
    etc. If there is any problem obtaining benefits from the employer or its
    insurer, it would always be wise to consult legal counsel.

    For any on the job injury an accident or incident report should be made,
    to the employer, as soon as practical. Sometimes a worker suffers a slight
    injury, shrugs it off and continues working but realizes some time later
    that the injury may be more serious than originally believed. Again, the
    report should be made as soon as any problem arises even if it is after the
    time of the injury.

  7. Workers Compensation Law varies from state to state. But put simply it is a system for the administration of benefits for an employee who is injured at work.

    The way it works is that the employer has workers compensation insurance through a workers compensation insurance carrier. The carrier is responsible for paying weekly benefits and medical expenses for injured workers.

    The injured worker is paid a percentage of his/her average weekly wage. In NY the rate is 2/3 the weekly salary up to the statutory maximum, which changes every year.

    The workers compensation insurance carrier is allowed to contest the benefits on legal grounds and raise defenses to the payment of compensation. These defenses are the reasons why the carrier believes that the injured worker should not get paid their weekly benefits. The disputes are resolved through an administrative process at the workers compensation board. The workers compensation board is the administrative system that determines whether a claim is compensable whether a claimant is disabled (if that is being disputed by the workers compensation carrier) and how much money the injured worker is to receive.

    Workers compensation cases can last for years and it is a long and time consuming process. The point of the workers compensation system is to pay the injured worker until he/she is no longer disabled and can return to work. If the worker can never return to work he/she is rated either partially or totally disabled. Cases can also resolve in NY under a lump sum settlement called a Section 32 or through a schedule loss of use award for an extremity.

    Workers Compensation law is complicated and takes years to learn. That is why an injured worker needs a workers compensation lawyer. If you have been Jason B. Kessler
    New York

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