No one wants to be hurt on the job. In addition to the pain and suffering, you face medical bills and the loss of income. But your benefits under Worker’s Compensation can make a work-related injury more bearable. Worker’s Compensation laws were passed to help prevent lawsuits, providing a benefit to employers who could more accurately predict costs. But they also meant that workers injured on the job could receive assistance much more rapidly, without having to wait months for their cases to be heard.
While the laws that apply to those who suffer an injury in the workplace vary between states, there are certain benefits that all provide. One is payment of a percent of the wages the employee would have earned if the injury had not occurred. The exact percentage varies from state to state, but most are in the eighty to ninety percent area. These payments may be exempt from state income taxes, depending on the laws specific to your state of residency.
When injured on the job, you are entitled to payment of all medical expenses related to the injury. In some states, all such expenses are covered, with no out of pocket cost to you. In others, you might have to pay a small portion of the bills. In still other states, you might be covered for all medical expenses, whether injury related or not, at a set percentage. Normally, medical coverage begins as soon as you are injured and continues until you can return to work.
If you are hurt on the job and can never return to the job you originally held but might be able to work at a different position, you may receive training. Take, for example, an original job which required heavy lifting. A severe back injury makes it impossible to return to this position. However, the employee is capable of working a desk job, but lacks the skills to perform in that position. Training, paid by Worker’s Compensation, can make the career change possible.
Anyone who is hurt in the workplace has the responsibility to report the incident immediately to a supervisor or personnel manager. Failure to notify management of the incident at the time it occurs can jeopardize a claim for benefits. One reason is that the injured employee will normally have to pass a drug test to prove there were no drugs or alcohol present. Tests given after the fact may not be able to provide a determination. Also, eyewitnesses must be interviewed, and they may not recall details if much time has passed. And finally, if a dangerous situation exists, management wants to correct it before others are hurt.
Physical therapy may be ordered as part of the medical treatment for an injured worker. The employee is expected to cooperate in all treatment plans, and this includes physical therapy sessions. Failure to participate can lead to termination of benefits.
Doctors and hospitals are usually determined by the insurance provider who writes the policy for the employer. You can insist on seeing your own physician, but payments may be withheld or drastically reduced if you go out of network. However, if the doctor you are assigned proves impossible to work with or incompetent, you can request another physician.
In the event of a work-related injury, you are entitled to many benefits to help reduce the economic damage the injury can cause. Should you have problems obtaining what is due you, there are attorneys who specialize in Worker’s Compensation law. In most states, these lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid unless you win. As a last resort, you might consult with one to make sure you get all of the benefits to which you are entitled.