Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that almost all employers are required to carry to compensate their employees for job related injuries. Any injury or illness that is employment related is generally within the meaning of a workers’ compensation injury. There are three important differences between workers’ compensation statutes and general personal injury claims.
Under workers’ compensation statutes the employee does not have to prove that his injury was caused by his employer’s negligence. Instead, all the employee needs to show is that the injury was work related.
The employee’s sole recourse against the employer for work related injuries is a workers’ compensation claim. The worker is not permitted to bring a suit against an employer or co-workers for work related injuries.
The compensation an employee is entitled to is dramatically less than the compensation available in a general personal injury claim. The types of benefits potentially available for an employee’s work related injuries are: medical bills, vocational rehabilitation training, temporary total disability, partial disability and total and permanent disability and death benefits. In addition, depending on the state, the benefits for temporary total and partial disability may have time limits.
BENEFITS THE INJURED WORKER MAY BE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE
- Medical Bills: The employee is entitled to have all approved medical and hospital bills paid in full by the insurance company so long as they are reasonable, related and necessary.
- Vocational Rehabilitative Training: If unable to return to the job he or she had before the injury, the employee may qualify for vocational rehabilitative benefits which train the employee for a new line of employment. These benefits can include assistance in job searches and placement, training materials, schooling and related expenses.
- Temporary Total Disability: Temporary total disability benefits are generally available while the employee is recovering from the work-related injury and can prove that he/she cannot do his regular job. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire the employee receives sixty (60%) percent of the average weekly wage earned. This compensation usually continues until a treating doctor determines that the injury has improved to the point that the employee can return to work, either in a partial capacity or full time.
- Temporary Partial Disability: If a finding is made that the employee can do some work, then benefits may be paid for partial disability at a rate of sixty (60%) percent of the difference between what the employee is able to earn and the former average weekly wage.
- Total and Permanent Disability: If the employee is unable to hold any gainful employment because of a work related injury, and the condition is a permanent one, then the employee will be entitled to this compensation. At this point it is appropriate to file for Social Security disability or other long-term disability entitlements.
- Death Benefits: If the employee is killed or dies as a result of a work related injury, then the qualified surviving dependents (those persons who relied on the deceased employee for their support) will receive death benefits.
THIRD PARTY LIABILITY
Many states, including Massachusetts and New Hampshire, permit an injured worker to sue a third party or outsider who causes or contributes to an on-the-job injury. Thus, a worker may have both a tort claim against the outsider (such as the manufacturer of a machine used on the job) and a compensation claim against his or her employer, subject only to certain adjustments or offsets to prevent “double recovery”.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED ON THE JOB
If you are injured on the job, immediately report your injury to your employer. Your employer should arrange for the treatment of your injury by referring you to a doctor. If your employer has been notified of your injury and fails to make arrangements for you to seek a doctor, then you may choose your own doctor. (Sometimes you are required to treat “within the network”). Your employer will also provide you with a claim form. On this form you will be required to explain the circumstances of your injury including when, where, and how the injury occurred. Fill out the form completely and return it to your employer. Be sure that our employer signs and dates your copy, and that you keep a copy of the claim form. If your claim for workers’ compensation is denied by the employer’s insurance company or it is taking too long to process, then you or we would need to file a formal claim for an administrative adjudication, usually with the agency that handles workers’ compensation claims in your state (in Massachusetts it is the Department of Industrial Accidents; in New Hampshire it is the Department of Labor). To ensure that you receive all of the benefits you are entitled to receive click below.
WORK RELATED INJURIES AND SEEKING QUALIFIED COUNSEL
You have the right to seek assistance from an attorney for work related injuries. An experienced lawyer can help ensure that you receive the full benefits you are entitled to for your injury. For instance, there are certain time limits for filing claims under workers’ compensation statutes. An experienced lawyer can ensure that you do not lose benefits because of these time limitations. Additionally, a lawyer can also help you determine whether any third party (such as a manufacturer of the equipment, which caused the injury) may also be liable by way of a civil lawsuit.
Do you have a claim? Contact us for your free consultation.