The Basics of Worker’s Compensation: What Are Your Rights If You’re Injured on the Job?

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Worker’s Compensation

Executive ChroniclesIn all states, employers must provide workers with a healthy and safe work environment. They sometimes fail in this regard, and employees suffer as a result. Occasionally, though, workplace injuries occur despite employers’ best efforts. These injuries include things from broken bones and occupational illnesses to psychological harm and the aggravation of pre-existing health conditions. Here, we’ll take a look at employees’ rights after on-the-job injuries.

How Workers Can Protect Their Rights

The easiest and most crucial way for an injured worker to protect his or her rights is to report the incident to their employer. Most jurisdictions require employees to report injuries within a certain time period. Depending on the case’s circumstances, this might not be possible, but it’s important to file a report soon after being injured on the job.

The next step an employee should take is to file a claim with the state’s worker’s compensation court. This formally notifies the court, the employer, and their insurer of the injury. Once the claim has been filed, workers receive some protections automatically.

Workers’ Rights

Worker’s compensation laws vary by state. Injured employees’ rights vary as well, as do the legal procedures protecting those rights. Most states give workers the following rights:

  • Filing a claim for an illness or injury in court
  • Receiving medical treatment
  • Returning to work when cleared by a physician
  • Getting disability compensation when unable to return to work
  • Appealing unfavorable decisions by employers, courts, and insurers
  • Seeking legal counsel

As a worker, understanding your right to act is just as crucial as understanding your right to decline certain offers or requests. For instance, if you’re hurt on the job and your employer asks you to pay for treatment with your own health coverage, or if they offer you an incentive to not file a claim, you are allowed to say “no”. Each state’s laws allow workers to pursue claims without fear of harassment or retaliation. If an employer makes it hard for you to exercise your rights, they may face severe penalties. It’s illegal for supervisors to harass workers or prevent them from doing their jobs, if the filing of a worker’s compensation claim is the reason for the behavior.

Workers’ Rights Against Third Parties

In some cases, workplace injuries are caused by other parties’ negligent actions. Depending on the situation, the other party may be a delivery driver, a designer, or an equipment manufacturer. If you’re hurt at work because of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a claim against that party. Third-party claims aren’t filed in the worker’s compensation system; rather, they’re filed in civil court.

Civil claims for workplace injuries can request additional damages that aren’t recoverable in worker’s compensation claims. For instance, the benefits received under worker’s compensation are meant to reimburse you for lost income and medical bills, not pain and suffering. In third-party claims, however, you may seek compensation for non-economic damages.

Closing Thoughts

Although worker’s compensation is a form of no-fault insurance, an injured employee is allowed to hire a lawyer to protect their interests. Experienced worker’s compensation attorneys will ensure that all claim deadlines and requirements are met, all medical expenses are paid by the insurer, and that clients receive appropriate compensation.

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