Workers' compensation is designed to pay you for injuries you suffer at work or while performing activities required by your job outside of the workplace. These payments are normally provided through a policy of insurance purchased by your employer to cover work-related injuries.
Although the laws governing workers' compensation are designed to protect injured workers, the rules governing workers' compensation can be complex and difficult to understand. In general, if you suffer a work-related injury, the law provides for payment of a fixed monetary award without considering whether the work-related injury was caused by the negligence of the employee or the employer. Unless you can point to a third party unrelated to your employer who contributed to your injury, workers' compensation generally provides the exclusive remedy under the law for your case.
Workers' compensation law covers many types of injuries, including:
• Injuries to your back, neck and extremities occurring during performance of your work.
• Pre-existing conditions accelerated or aggravated by your work duties.
• Diseases and physical conditions caused by exposure to toxins if exposure to these substances is part of your normal working conditions.
• Injury caused during work-sponsored activities if the activity is for the benefit of your employer, even if not a regular part of your work duties.
If you are injured at work, the first thing you should do is report the injury to your employer. Make the report in writing, if possible, and make a copy for your personal records. Tell your employer about any witnesses who may have observed the events leading to your injury.
Your employer then must offer you a claim form immediately after you file a report. The company has no legal responsibility to provide benefits for you until the form is completed. Be specific and complete when you fill out the claim form and keep a copy of the form for your own records. Once you've submitted the form to your employer, it is then the employer's duty to immediately notify its insurance company of your injury and arrange medical treatment for you.
Don't put off filing the insurance claim. Delays on your part can lead to delays in receiving benefits. Immediately reporting your injury and filing a claim increases the probability that benefits will begin quickly.
The laws governing workers' compensation give you the right to all reasonable and necessary medical care to cure or relieve your injury. This includes compensation for all reasonable and necessary medical bills and prescriptions, as well as reimbursement for mileage to and from your healthcare provider. It may also include physical therapy and even vocational training if your injury is severe enough that you may be unable to perform your prior job duties.
Depending upon your injury, you may be eligible for weekly disability payments and have other rights depending upon the extent of your injury and your ability to return to work.
Consultation with the attorneys at Johnson and Mock will help you clarify what benefits are owed to you and help you decide on the course of action that is right for you.