Workers Compensation Information: The Essentials

Workers’ Compensation Information

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance some employers carry to protect themselves in the event that their employees are injured while on the job. Depending on the circumstances of an injury, an employee might be able to collect:

  • Wage-replacement payment;
  • Compensation for past and potential financial losses that the injury caused;
  • Payment of or reimbursement for medical bills for procedures or medications related to the injury;
  • Payments to a person’s dependents, if the person is killed on the job.

Those who receive workers’ compensation may do so on the condition that they cannot sue the company for additional damages related to the injury. Workers’ compensation is a sort of middle ground between an all-out lawsuit and no compensation at all.

In most cases, workers’ compensation recipients may not be able to collect damages for pain and suffering.

Who Can Collect Workers’ Compensation?

Individuals whose employers carry workers’ compensation insurance and whose injuries qualify them for that coverage may be able to collect workers’ compensation even if they were at fault in an injury.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?

Often, following a workplace injury, the employer’s insurance provider will contact the victim to conduct a preliminary interview and possibly offer a workers’ compensation settlement. During this phase, injured workers may want to keep a few things in mind:

  • The insurance worker’s job is to save the insurance provider money. If he or she extends an offer immediately, it may not be for the total amount to which a worker is entitled.
  • It may be in an insurance provider’s best interest to settle a workers’ comp claim quickly, but workers should keep in mind that they might not know the full cost of their injuries until weeks or even months after the injuries occur.
  • Workers who accept insurance settlements may be unable to sue for further damages later, even if more complications from the injury emerge.
  • Insurance providers may engage the worker in conversation during the information gathering process. They may be able to use the contents of this conversation later as support for their settlement offer. Workers may want to proceed with caution when speaking to officials from an employer’s insurance company.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help with Workers’ Compensation Cases?

Workers’ compensation laws are intricate and complex. In order to be eligible for a settlement, individuals must follow a strict procedure for submitting claims. In some cases, an individual’s claim may be denied even if he or she has a genuine need for workers’ compensation benefits.

A personal injury lawyer can help explain a worker’s rights and legal options in the event of workplace injury. Further, a lawyer may be able to advise a victim about whether or not to accept a settlement.

Is It Possible to Sue in Addition to Collecting Workers’ Compensation?

In some cases, an injured worker may be able to file a lawsuit in addition to collecting workers’ compensation benefits. For example, workers may have a legal recourse to a suit if:

  • A defective product caused the injury: In this case, the worker may be able to sue the manufacturer of the product under products liability laws.
  • A toxic chemical caused the injury: In this situation, the worker may be able to bring a toxic tort lawsuit against the manufacturer of the chemical.
  • An employer’s intentional, egregious conduct caused the injury: In this case, the worker may have the option of bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the employer. Lawsuits against employers may also be possible in the absence of workers’ compensation insurance.

Keep in mind, though, that these cases are limited and are governed by specific legal requirements that vary from state to state. A local personal injury attorney can explain workers’ compensation benefits and related lawsuits in more detail.

Can I Collect Workers’ Compensation for Hostile Work Environments?

A hostile work environment is defined as one in which an employer harasses, intimidates or discriminates against employees, thus creating an unpleasant workplace conditions. Depending on applicable laws, employees may be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits if:

  • They reasonably believe they must endure the hostile conditions or risk losing their jobs.
  • They are treated to retaliatory discrimination, harassment or intimidation because they acted as a whistle blower.
  • An employer engages in physically threatening language or conduct, sexual harassment or racial discrimination.

Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act protect against such behavior and may be grounds for compensation.

How Should I Proceed with My Workers’ Compensation Case?

If you have been injured on the job and are not sure how to move forward with your case, you may want to speak with a personal injury lawyer in your state to learn about your rights and legal obligations.

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