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Workers CompensationDo I Qualify for a Workers Compensation Lawsuit?

Do I Qualify for a Workers Compensation Lawsuit?

If you suffer from an injury at work that impedes your ability to complete your daily duties, you may qualify for a Workers compensation lawsuit. This system of no fault coverage ensures that an injured Workers job is protected, his/her injury costs are covered, and the worker does not lose out on earned income during the injury.

What is Workers Compensation?

Work related injuries are unfortunately a common part of many different professional fields. Fortunately, workers are covered by state’s Workers compensation laws, which protect workers from paying out of pocket to cover medical costs and lost wages due to work related injuries.

Workers compensation is statutory, meaning every state requires employers (of a certain size) to offer Workers compensation coverage for employees who are injured on the job. The specific details and process of filing a Workers compensation claim differ state-by-state. However, all states Workers compensation laws include a no-fault process that protects both employees and employers.

What is a No-Fault System?

Unlike most personal injury cases, Workers compensation claims are not required to show fault. This significantly simplifies the claims process by eliminating the need for the court system. Under this system, evidence of the injury at work is the only proof that an employee needs to receive compensation. In exchange for a simplified process and quick payoffs, employers are protected from lawsuits brought against them over work-related injury (except in specific situations).

Despite being “no-fault,” you should consider hiring a lawyer for your workers compensation lawsuit.

Workers compensation laws are created to benefit both the employee and employer. The employee is guaranteed a quick payoff to cover their damages without the hassle of dealing with the courts. In exchange, the employer is protected from personal injury lawsuits regarding the injury.

However, the Workers compensation claim process can be very complex, involving time-sensitive deadlines and very specific paperwork. Along with these speedbumps in the Workers compensation claim process, creating a full list of damages along with the proper tangible evidence to prove these damages is nothing short of complicated.

Hiring a Workers compensation lawyer can be very beneficial. You can focus on the healing process while your Workers compensation lawyer takes care of the hassles of filing a strong claim, ensuring that you get the full compensation that you deserve.

What Types of Injuries are Covered by Workers Compensation Lawsuits?

Workers compensation protects workers from:

  • Injuries occurring on employer property or at employer events
  • Injuries caused by employer properties, such as employer equipment
  • Injuries from exposure to dangerous conditions
  • Affliction to pre-existing injuries or conditions

Workers should not expect to be compensated for any injury that occurs while they are working while in an impaired state, acting in direct violation of employer rules or guidelines, or injuries resulting from participating in a non-work related activity while at work.

Besides Workers compensation, there are two other primary types of disability: state disability benefits and social security disability insurance (SSDI). It is important to familiarize yourself with the differences in the three types of disability so that you know which disability you are eligible to receive.

How Does a Workers Compensation Claim Work?

The three primary parties involved in a Workers compensation claim are the worker, the employer, and an insurance provider. These three parties arbitrate fair compensation based on the degree of the injuries and following the guidelines set by state Workers compensation laws.

Workers receive compensation for work-related injuries in the form of benefits. These benefits include any medical costs involved with the injury at work and partial wage payments (average of 2/3 of normal wages) for the duration of the lost work time. The length of these payouts and maximum payouts are capped by state Workers compensation laws. 2/3’s may seem unfair, but these payouts are not taxed, so they actually translate fairly closely to most normal paychecks.

How Much Money Can I Expect from a Workers Compensation Lawsuit?

The Four Different Levels of Disability

The amount of coverage and duration of partial wage payments is determined by the degree of disability of an employee. There are four degrees of disability:

  • Temporary Total Disability: an injury that completely prevents the employee from participating at work for a limited time.
    1. 1. Benefits last until you are medically cleared to return to work.
  • Temporary Partial Disability: an injury that prevents you from participating in some of your work duties for a limited time
    1. 1. Benefits last until you are medically cleared to participate in all of your normal duties.
  • Permanent Total Disability: an injury that permanently prevents you from returning to work and limits your ability to participate in a similar occupational field.
    1. 1. Benefits last until you are medically cleared to begin a new job. If your injuries are substantial enough that you are no longer able to work, you may be entitled to social security disability coverage.
  • Permanent Partial Disability: a permanent injury that only partially prevents an employee from participating in their work duties.
    1. 1. Benefits for these injuries are often highly disputed between employers and employees and depend on the extent of the injury and its effect on the Workers ability to perform their duties.

Along with medical costs and lost wages, employees may be entitled to other benefits for work related injuries.

Physical and vocational rehabilitation costs are often covered by Workers compensation. These include any costs involved in physical rehabilitation necessary for a worker to get back to work or any vocational training that a worker must undergo in order to take on a working role for the employer.

Punitive damages are not commonly included in Workers compensation benefits. In the case where injuries are substantial enough to be considered life-altering, the employer may receive an additional lump-sum for damages.

In the case that a work-related accident results in an employee’s death, the immediate family of the deceased may be entitled to death benefits.  If no immediate family exists, the next-of-kin, which is often determined through administrative hearings, becomes the beneficiary of any death benefits. These benefits included a capped sum that covers funeral expenses and compensation in the sum of partial normal wages. These sums are set by state Workers compensation laws.

Don’t Side-Step the Law

A common issue with workers compensation lawsuits is the tendency for employers and employees to make off-record settlements so that the employer’s insurance rates remain intact. An off-record settlement may seem enticing, especially if the employer offers higher compensation than you would expect to receive through Workers compensation proceedings. But there are many problems that can arise if you do not follow the procedures set by your state’s worker compensation laws.

For workers, off-record settlements mean that you are forfeiting some of the protections that Workers compensation allows you. You are not guaranteed to be paid the full settlement, your position may not be protected, and if your injury at work results in future costs, these costs may not fall upon your employer.

For employers, Workers compensation laws protect from future lawsuits brought against them by an employee injured on the job.

Workers compensation laws were created to benefit both the worker and employer. Following these laws is the only way to ensure a positive outcome for both parties.

There are a number of common situations in which legal action taken against an employer outside of the worker’s compensation makes more sense. Please see our blog on common worker injury lawsuits.

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