Worker's Compensation laws were designed to provide employees with several basic rights when suffering injuries in the workplace. In general, employees are entitled to receive payment for lost income, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs incurred as result of work-related injuries. Employees are also allowed to collect two-thirds of wages at the time of the injury while unable to work.
If injuries are more serious and prevent you from being able to return to work, you may be entitled to a larger settlement (called a “lump sum settlement”) in order to compensate for future lost wages.
You may use your own doctor when evaluating and treating for your injuries. However, your employer’s insurance doctor must also be permitted to examine you. Keep in mind that these doctors are not your doctors. They will never treat you, and what you tell them is not confidential, unlike with your doctor. The insurance company’s doctor’s diagnosis may be motivated by their desire to retain future business from the employer’s insurance company. Some of these doctors only see people who are sent to them by insurance companies, and have no private patients of their own. Consult a personal injury attorney before agreeing to see your employer’s doctor. The report from this doctor's examination can have a major impact on the nature and extent of the benefits you will receive.
The types of injuries typically covered by Worker’s Compensation include:
- Injuries sustained while performing daily work responsibilities
- Pre-existing conditions exacerbated at work
- Injuries caused during breaks, lunch hours, and work-sponsored or mandated activities
- Afflictions caused by exposure to toxic chemicals at work
The Worker's Compensation system was designed to be a substitute for litigation between employees and employers. It is a so-called “no fault” system, where liability does not need to be proven by the claimant. The system categorizes the benefits that workers are entitled to in order to avoid the expense of lawsuits. As a result, if you are hurt at work you may not sue your employer due to the accident, and there is no right to a jury trial.
The major exception to this rule occurs in one of two ways:
- If your employer intentionally does something to cause your injury, or
- If your injury is caused by a third-party such as an equipment manufacturer, installer, or property owner, then you may bring what is known as a third-party claim (against someone other than your employer).
In the above instances, you are not limited to using the Worker’s Compensation system, and are free to look to the third party for your damages.
If you have suffered a serious injury at work please contact us. We're happy to answer your questions and discuss all of your options.