Worker’s Compensation law is the body of law that governs most workplace injuries. If a person suffers an injury or aggravates a preexisting injury in connection with their job duties, then a worker’s compensation claim is the usual method of gaining relief.
Coverage requirements for employers vary from state to state. In California, a business with just one employee is required to provide coverage. Alabama meanwhile does not require workers compensation coverage for an employer with less than five employees, unless the employer is involved in construction of single family dwellings. Arkansas exempts businesses with less than three employees, while Texas does not require an employer to provide coverage unless the business falls under a recognized exception. Most states do have workers compensation insurance requirements however, with statutory exemptions for certain industries. If a worker is employed by the federal government, then federal workers compensation laws apply.
Different types of benefits are available to a worker who has filed a claim, depending on the type of injury received. Less severe injuries may be compensated by medical treatment and wage replacement.
If the worker can no longer perform the job, then they may be entitled to job retraining. If a person is permanently disabled as a result of a workplace injury, they may receive regular benefit payments to compensate for the injury. The amount of benefits paid to an injured worker vary by jurisdiction, and are arrived at based on different formulas.
It’s important to note that workers compensation laws generally take away an employee’s ability to sue their employer or fellow employees for negligence in causing their injury, although they still retain the right to sue other negligent parties such as equipment manufacturers. Also, claimants do not receive compensation for pain and suffering as they would in a civil case involving negligence. Workers compensation is generally a “no fault” system. Workers can generally recover even if the injury was their fault. After the employee is hurt and the employer is notified, the worker fills out a claim form and it is submitted to the insurance company. The insurance company is free to reject the claim if they doubt the cause or existence of the injury, leaving the employee the remedy of appealing to the state’s workers compensation appeal board.
That is why an experienced workers compensation lawyer can be an invaluable resource to an injured worker. A workers compensation attorney can help them navigate the process, explaining their rights and remedies under the jurisdiction’s laws. If the employee’s claim is denied, the attorney can attempt to negotiate with the insurance company on their behalf and represent them at the workers compensation board appeal hearing if necessary.
An injured worker stands to lose valuable benefits they are entitled to under the law such as temporary or permanent disability payments or job retraining if they lose their appeal, making the need of having their position advocated by a competent and experienced attorney of the utmost importance. Failing to retain counsel in this instance could be the difference between receiving justified compensation and being required to suffer physically, financially, and emotionally when the outcome could have been quite different.