While laws vary by state, this coverage mostly extends to full-time employees of an organization.
Workers’ compensation coverage is a mandatory insurance policy employers take to provide medical care and financial support to employees who sustain workplace injuries. If you are among the over two million employees of private industries who sustain nonfatal workplace injuries annually, you should understand how worker’s comp insurance works.
Understanding your rights and benefits under worker’s compensation is crucial. While you should engage a qualified worker’s compensation attorney, knowing what to expect makes it easier to file a compensation claim. Below are your rights and the benefits under workers comp.
Right to Report your Injuries
Injured employees should report their workplace injuries immediately. Besides being a requirement by law in most states, reporting immediately also makes you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Failing to report your workplace injuries within a state-specified period can void your chances of getting compensation.
You should submit a detailed report of your injuries. Explain how the accident occurred and the extent of your injuries. You should also include relevant details to support your claim, including any witnesses to the accident.
Employers typically have specific procedures and forms for reporting workplace injuries. You should follow these instructions carefully. Remember that reporting your injuries to the employer isn’t the same as filing a compensation claim. You’ll still have to file a claim with the relevant state agencies to access benefits.
Surprisingly, it is not uncommon for some employers to retaliate or discourage employees from reporting workplace injuries. You should know that this is illegal, and you should seek legal recourse if an employer does this.
Right to Medical Treatment
Employers are mandated to provide medical treatment to injured employees. This includes doctor’s visits, hospital stays, and the necessary medical procedures. Injured employees should keep track of medical expenses associated with the injury as they are covered by workers’ compensation.
However, note that worker’s compensation laws vary from one state to another. You should understand the laws applicable in your state. Generally, workers’ comp covers medical expenses, lost income, and vocational rehabilitation. Travel expenses incurred when seeking medical care are also compensated.
Right to Time off Work
Injured employees can claim temporary disability benefits if workplace injuries render them unable to perform. Temporary disability benefits essentially provide the injured employee a percentage of lost wages. You may also be eligible for permanent disability benefits if your injuries prevent you from resuming work duties.
Right to Appeal
Injured employees also have a right to appeal denied workers’ comp claims. Appealing denied claims often requires a hearing before a judge or appeals board. The burden of proof here purely lies on the employee, making it necessary to prepare adequately for the appeal. You should have the necessary documents and evidence to support your claims.
The appeal process varies from one state to another. However, it typically involves filing a written appeal within a given period. You should attach medical records, witness statements, expenses, and other information to support your claim.
The Benefits of Workers’ Comp
Injured employees have access to the following benefits:
1. Medical Expenses
Workers’ comp insurance helps employers by offsetting medical bills for injured employees. All your medical expenses, including emergency room visits, prescriptions, surgeries, and other therapies, are covered.
Note that some workplace injuries are severe and need multiple treatment sessions. Fortunately, workers’ comp covers ongoing care costs, such as physical therapy and rehabilitation.
2. Repetitive Injuries
Some work-related injuries or illnesses are a result of multiple traumatic incidents. Repetitive conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome take months or years to develop. If you develop such injuries, workers comp insurance covers treatment costs and ongoing care bills.
3. Lost Income
Injured employees also benefit from lost income or missed wages if they need time off work to recover from their injuries. For instance, if a restaurant employee sustains burns on her arm and can’t work for one month, workers’ comp cover compensates for the missed wages.
Some work-related injuries are severe enough to cause temporary or permanent disabilities. If you sustain serious injuries, workers’ comp insurance offers disabled employees benefits to replace their lost wages and repay their medical bills.
4. Funeral Costs
Fatal workplace injuries can occur, especially in manufacturing industries. If an employee loses their life from a work-related accident, workers’ comp cover provides death benefits to beneficiaries and covers funeral costs.
All employers should take workers’ comp insurance to protect their employees. While laws vary by state, this coverage mostly extends to full-time employees of an organization. Knowing what to expect after an injury is important if you fall in this category.