The Basics about Workers’ Compensation Law
The law has made provisions for workers who get injured in the workplace. Workers’ compensation program is set up to ensure injured workers get access to medical care they need to recover from their work-related injuries. It also ensures that the recovering worker is given financial compensation for the lost wages during the period of recovery.
Workers’ compensation program is a kind of insurance. An employer who covers medical expenses for the injured worker and compensates for any other related losses incurred cannot be held liable for the worker’s injury and cannot be sued. This also means that the injured worker gets compensation and coverage for the losses without having to sue the employer.
Many states in the US, California being one of them, are no-fault states. That means that employees who are hurt on the job can receive coverage for their injury-related expenses without regard to their personal negligence or fault. Put simply, even if the employee is responsible for getting hurt, they are generally entitled to be compensated for their injury and recovery. The reason we hedge this statement with the word “generally” is because workers who intentionally hurt themselves on the job with the purpose of obtaining benefits are not eligible for compensation.
The time you have to file a claim
States have their own deadlines for filing workers’ compensation claims and these deadlines are generally dependent on the type of injury. In California for example, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date of the injury.
But, before you file the claim, you have to notify your employer of the injury. The time window to do so also varies slightly from one state to another, but it typically spans 30 to 45 days from the day of the injury. You can tell your employer about the injury in person or you can write it in a letter or email. It could be best to do it in writing, so that you have proof that your employer was duly notified.
Selecting the doctor
The workers’ compensation system was primarily put in place to ensure injured workers will have access to the medical care they need. When you get hurt on the job, you can go to a doctor chosen by your employer or to a doctor from the healthcare network of your employer’s insurance carrier. You can also go to the doctor you typically visit, but only if you pre-designate that physician as your primary care physician. Your employer is obligated to let you know about the option to predesignate a doctor.
In the case that your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance, you can file a lawsuit against them to obtain coverage for medical expenses, lost wages and any other damages. In regular work comp cases, there is no possibility of a lawsuit. In this case, you can also file a claim to the Uninsured Employers Fund in your state. Injured workers can sometimes get partial benefits from this body.
No better help than professional
In any case, you’d do best to contact an experienced, aggressive and ethical work comp lawyer to ensure the best outcome in your workers’ compensation case. A seasoned work injury lawyer can easily navigate the process of recovering your benefits. They also know how to recover for you all the benefits you deserve. Remember that insurance companies will do everything in their power to reduce the payout. That’s where a workers’ compensation attorney can help – they level the playing field and protect your interests more fiercely than you could. If you have any questions about workers’ compensation or you have concerns about your case, don’t hesitate to reach out to a workers’ compensation lawyer today.