A Worker’s Guide to Workers’ Compensation
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation covers benefits for medical care, temporary disability benefits for loss wages and monetary compensation for any such permanent injuries. In the unfortunate event of death, benefits are payable to the family of the deceased worker. These benefits are not always easy to obtain, however. You will need an attorney to fight against the insurance companies to recover the benefits that are rightfully yours.
What must a worker do if injured?
If you or a loved one is injured on the job, please immediately notify your employer. You have only a short time from the date of the accident to do so. In some cases, like in hernia claims, you have only 48 hours. Notice is very important and would best be provided to your employer in writing; however, written notice is not required. Notice of any injury may be given to a supervisor, the personnel office or to anyone in authority at your place of employment. If the injured worker is in need of medical treatment, a request should be made to the employer as soon as possible.
What if an employer refuses to provide medical services and/or temporary disability benefits?
If an employer refuses to provide you or a loved one with medical services and/or temporary disability benefits, you should seek the services of an attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will file a formal claim on your behalf which will then allow them to file documentation with the Court. Once that occurs, the attorney will be able to discuss the issues with the Judge in an attempt to either order or persuade the employer’s insurance company to provide you with benefits. Attorneys are prohibited by law from charging a fee in advance for such services. Fees are fixed by the Court, but only if an award is obtained. There are no filing fees.
IMPORTANT: A formal Claim Petition must be filed within two years of the date of the injury or the last payment of compensation, whichever is later. Any payment made by the employer or their insurance company in relation to your injury is considered a payment of compensation and will extend the two-year period.
Additionally, in cases of occupational illness or exposure, a claim must be filed within two years from the date the worker first became aware that the condition was related their employment. This statute of limitations applies to minors as well.
Can an employer take action against a worker for filing a claim?
The Workers’ Compensation Act prohibits an employer from discharging or discriminating against you in any manner because of a claimed workers’ compensation injury and/or benefit. Please consult us immediately if you are feeling any pressure from your employer relating to the filing of a workers’ compensation claim.
I am unsure what to do. I don’t want to sue my employer.
When you file a claim for workers’ compensation, you are not “suing” your employer. The Workers Compensation Statute prohibits suing your employer for injuries occurring during and in the course of your employment. There are a few exceptions, but the majority of the claims filed are petitions to the worker’ compensation insurance companies for benefits. You are actually less likely to be fired from your employment if you file a petition for benefits because you will then be under the scrutiny of the Courts. If you are injured and cannot perform your duties, your employer can terminate you; however, if you are under the care of workers’ compensation benefits, they will not.
My employer said that if I file a workers’ compensation claim against them, their insurance premiums will go up and they will not have enough money to pay me.
An employer’s workers’ compensation insurance premium is based upon the type of business they do and the total amount of payroll they pay out. Do not let them tell you that filing a workers’ compensation claim will increase their insurance rates. This is a common misconception and many employers use this to their advantage. This is simply not true.