Your Legal Rights under Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation programs are meant to provide medical care and financial support to employees who suffer injuries or illnesses as a result of something they did at work. Workers’ compensation laws and programs will vary depending on which state the claim originates in. Still, there are some generalities that cover most situations.

Most employers must keep workers’ compensation insurance policies

Not every place of employment will be required to keep a workers’ compensation policy, but most will. Some frequent exclusions include very small businesses with only a few employees, and certain industries such as agriculture. Government employees, and law enforcement officials often have separate programs to address work related injuries and illnesses.

Injuries and illnesses are covered

If you slip and break a bone at work, while in the course of your work related duties, then that is a fairly obvious example of a work related injury. However, there are many other situations that are usually covered. This includes injuries that develop over a long period of doing the same thing, illnesses that develop as a result of exposure to something, and even mental health issues. If work caused you to have a serious injury or illness, that requires medical attention, and potentially time off of work, then it usually should qualify. The difficult part in many of these scenarios is proving that the injury or illness is in fact caused by something that happened or happens at work.

You can be at fault for the injury and still be covered

If you were careless at work, and suffered an injury as the result of that carelessness, you can still collect workers’ compensation benefits. This is because workers’ compensation programs are not based on an employer’s fault. There are limits to this however, and if you were injured because you arrived to work intoxicated, or started a fight with a co-worker, or were injured while committing a crime at work, you might lose your ability to collect.

You do not have the right to sue your employer in court

In exchange for the ability to collect workers’ compensation benefits even when your employer is not at fault, you lose the right to take your employer to court. Your claim must proceed through the process your state has established for workers’ compensation claims. If your initial claim in denied there will be an opportunity to appeal that claim, and eventually, once you have exhausted your appeals within the system, there might be a chance to appeal to a court of law.

You can sue other parties for the same incident or injury

The workers’ compensation system adds a protection to your employer in exchange for the ability to collect workers’ compensation even in the absence of wrongdoing. So you are not able to sue your employer in most cases. However, if your office chair breaks, dropping you to the floor and shattering your tailbone, you can likely sue the manufacturer of that chair, assuming it was defective. Likewise, if you are on a work related errand, and get hit by a car driven by a reckless driver, the driver of the car is not protected from a lawsuit. In these types of cases, you can likely collect workers’ compensation, and also file a lawsuit against another party who is not your employer.

Your employer is not legally permitted to retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim

Employees sometimes fear facing job loss or mistreatment at work as a result of filing for workers’ compensation. However, employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against an employee who files for workers’ compensation. If you are afraid that this may happen to you, be sure to keep detailed records of everything related to your performance at your job, your injury, and any retaliatory behavior you experience.

You have the right to hire an attorney

Hiring an attorney can help you to develop a strategy specific to your case and your state’s laws. Especially in the event that an employee’s initial claim is denied, an attorney can provide a great deal of help to an individual’s claim, by spotting gaps in an employee’s medical records, preparing a claimant for a hearing, and questioning opposing experts.

Contact Stern Law, PLLC for A Free Consultation

At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you in order to find the best strategy for seeking compensation for your job related injuries. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consolation with an experienced attorney.

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