Situations involving injuries and accidents at the workplace can have serious consequences on the lives of employees. As per the United States Department of Labor, workers are covered under the federal and state laws, in case they are harmed by industrial accidents due to hazardous work environment. They are entitled to workers' compensation, which is a form of employer insurance that provides cash benefits and/or medical care.
In the United States, the Industrial Injuries Law, that is similar to the Workers' Compensation Law, provide these benefits to workers or their dependents, who are injured/killed because of work-related accidents or illnesses. These laws also protect employers from exploitation by limiting the amount that may be recovered by an injured employee in most accidents.
If you sustain injuries or develop permanent/temporary medical conditions at work, you may be paid an insurance amount if the employer or insurance company agrees that the injury or illness is, indeed, work-related.
Here are the answers to some of the questions about workers' compensation that may arise if you file a claim for compensation:
When Can You File a Claim for Workers' Compensation?
Before you file a claim for workers' compensation, you should get medical treatment for your injuries as they can cause severe problems to your health. After that, you can file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. If you believe that your injury doesn't require immediate medical aid, then you can even file a claim as soon as you are hurt or develop an illness because of your work.
However, delaying filing the claim for industrial injuries can pose difficulties and may lead to your claim for a worker compensation benefits getting denied by the insurer. If there is a significant time gap between the date of the injury and the date you reported it to the authority, then it may raise questions on the legitimacy of the claim.
It may be difficult to file the claim if your illness or injury developed over time. These medical conditions can develop due to prolonged exposure to hazardous chemicals, or may even be cumulative or trauma injury. In that case, the statute of limitation begins from the first episode that you took time off work because of the injury, or when you knew that the injury was caused by your work.
2. How Long Should You Be out of Work to Be Eligible for Workers' Compensation?
If you plan to file a lawsuit against your employer, you must have convincing arguments to present in the court that shows that you were actually injured at work. Speaking of a time period, you must be unable to work for at least seven days before you are eligible for filing a claim for temporary disability benefits. Remember that such a time period is not applicable for medical benefits or permanent disability benefits. You are entitled to avail those benefits regardless of the number of lost workdays.
Most New Orleans industrial accident attorneys and other renowned industrial accident attorneys would advise you to seek legal aid instead of fighting for compensation single-handedly. This is because this area of law can be tricky and is best addressed with the expertise.
3. Who Takes the Final Call on a Case of Workers' Compensation Benefits?
Several organizations deal with an insurance carrier to manage workers' compensation. Check with the human resource personnel of your firm if they work with such an agency or if they are self-insured.
On filing the claim, the concerned insurance carrier will hold a thorough investigation related to your claim and determine whether or not you are eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.
If you disagree with the investigation results, you can challenge the decision, and have the right to file a claim with the Division of Workers' Compensation of your state. You can either submit an application for an informal hearing or directly file a formal claim petition.
4. What is Included in a Workers' Compensation Settlement?
Workers' compensation settlements received by injured employees may be in the form of lump sum amount or weekly payments. The settlement amount generally includes compensation for past medical expenses, an amount for potential future medical payments, indemnity payments that you may be entitled to (on a weekly basis), and other disputed amounts.
If your work-related injuries caused some kind of permanent impairment, but you were saved from being totally disabled, you are likely to receive a monetary award to compensate for your permanent impairment. This form of compensation is called Permanent Partial Disability Settlement.
In other cases, if you were unable to work for certain period of time because of workplace injuries, you can receive partial or total temporary disability benefits, or time loss compensation benefits, for that time.
Ensure that if you are opting for a one-time settlement amount, then it is approved by the Department of Industrial Accidents in your state. This helps the state authority to see to it that the worker or employee is not being unfairly taken advantage of. One-time settlements may seem appealing as they get you your benefits faster. However, you should remember that the total amount of benefits may be lesser than the present value.
Hiring an industrial accident attorney to help you with your settlement options can help you receive the right amount.
5. Are Workers' Compensation Benefits Taxable?
In most cases, an employee's workers' compensation benefits are not considered taxable income at the state or federal level. However, it may be different if an individual receives disability benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
In such situations, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look into the matter and may even reduce the employee's SSDI or SSI. The reduced amount will be of same value as the amount you receive as workers' compensation. This is primarily done to ensure that the combined amount of the workers' comp benefits and the disability payments is less than 80 percent of the overall income of the worker. This arrangement, called the workers' compensation offset, helps eliminate chances of overcompensation to the employees.
Regardless of how severe your workplace injuries and circumstances are, you are entitled to a certain amount of compensation from your employer. You shouldn't treat such situations lightly as industrial injuries can alter your professional and personal life permanently. Seeking help from a workers' compensation lawyer is the best way to deal with them as he/she will be able to advocate on your behalf and ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to.
Author: Aaron Ahlquist