Job-related accidents occur every day. You simply can’t predict all the possible mishaps that can occur in your workplace. Fortunately, employers in every state are required by law to pay for workers’ compensation insurance and thus to your physical health and mental wellbeing.
Ensuring that your work environment is safe and healthy is key to preventing job-related accidents and staff injuries. In spite of the best efforts, there’s always a small chance of injury and illness due to a variety of occupational hazards. This can include head injuries, broken bones, stomach sickness, psychological trauma, burns, and chronic conditions.
If you’ve sustained an injury at work and don’t know how to proceed, continue reading! Pursuing your rightful benefits is definitely worth it, as most lawyers will not charge you upfront. However, you have to be fully informed about your rights in order to know whether to proceed or not. After the injury has taken place, you have the right to:
- file a workers’ compensation claim for your injury or illness in court, be it industrial or workers comp court
- see a doctor and receive medical assistance, including assessment and treatment. You have every right to choose your own doctor
- return to your job, if you’re released to return to work by your selected physician, i.e. if your condition allows it.
- some type of disability compensation, to make up for the inability to return to work due to illness or injury, on a temporary or permanent basis
- appeal, if you’re at odds with any decision by your employer, the insurance carrier, or the court. Appeals are a typical device for the resolution of employee-employer disputes.
- legal representation in all stages of the workers’ compensation process.
Once you know your rights, you should contact your employer and give formal notice. Normally, they should contact the insurance company and file the form you filled out to the workers’ compensation court. It’s useful to contact your lawyer at that moment, as you want to avoid wasting time in case your claim is denied for any reason. Also, keep in mind that the system of workers’ compensation is there to protect you and your employer from lengthy civil litigation.
In case your injury results from the negligence or incompetence of a third party, you can file suit against this person or entity. These third-party claims are typically not filed in the worker’s compensation system, but in civil courts, but you can ask your selected attorney to give you the best advice on how to proceed.
Remember that civil lawsuits for workplace injuries can generally seek compensation for personal injury damages that fall outside the scope of your workers’ compensation claim. For instance, in a workers’ compensation claim you’d be reimbursed for your medical costs and lost wages. However, compensation for psychological pain and suffering won’t be covered by the workers’ comp claim.
On the contrary, a third-party claim (civil lawsuit), gives you the opportunity to demand compensation for suffering and pain incurred. This is why this type of claim falls into the category of non-economic damages.
It depends on the severity of your injury or work-related disease. If the level of disability is such that you require a lengthy recovery and extensive medical treatment, consulting an attorney is a sound decision. When your financial standing and physical wellbeing are at stake, it is best to seek reasonable compensation. A seasoned workers’ comp attorney can give you better insight into your rights and help you pursue the financial benefits you’re entitled to.