There once was a time when a worker who was injured on the job had little recourse. Not just was he physically injured, he lost income and had medical bills to pay. Sometimes the injury left a worker disabled and unable to provide for his family. The worker had few options besides to sue the employer for compensation. By and large, the workers lost. This is what led to the establishment of Worker’s Compensation.
Worker’s compensation refers to a state-run insurance program that protects the majority of workers in case of an on-the-job injury or an illness that results from working conditions. Exempted from this coverage are agricultural workers including farm owners and crop harvesters; domestic employees such as maids, housekeepers, butlers and the like; independent contractors of any sort; and employees of small businesses with five or fewer workers.
While each program varies in some details, all are set up to provide monetary benefits to a worker whose injury or illness resulted from a job-related accident or from the conditions of employment. Examples of this could be someone who breaks a bone in a fall, some who loses hearing as the result of working in a noisy environment, or someone who suffers repetitive stress injury from a lot of typing.
If a worker is seriously injured or ill, worker’s compensation also will pay for vocational rehabilitation such as physical therapy or training for a different job. Some programs also pay workers for loss of future earnings, if the injury prevents them from continuing in a higher-paying occupation than they can pursue because of a disability. If a worker is killed on the job, the program pays funeral costs and survivors may receive benefits to replace the deceased’s lost wages.
A worker who’s injured on the job should first file a claim form, available from the employer. Next the worker can expect to undergo an independent medical examination by a physician chosen by the employer’s insurance company. It’s important for the employee to pay close attention to the doctor’s diagnosis, to ask questions and to make notes of the examination afterward.
Any worker who suspects that his or her employer, or the employer’s insurance company, may challenge a worker’s compensation claim should consult with an attorney specializing in worker’s compensation law. The lawyer can help the worker obtain all the benefits to which he or she is due under the law.
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