Workers compensation is a form of insurance that provides income protection to employees who suffer a work-related injury or illness. Workers compensation rights, in order to qualify, must be provided by the employer and typically applies only to collisions with various objects, repetitious motions, and psychological stresses. In some cases this may also include exposure to hazardous substances or diseases such as lead poisoning.
You may be eligible for benefits if you are injured on the job
The extent of the benefits you are entitled to depends upon the facts of your particular case
In many cases, you will be eligible for a lump-sum payment. However, if your employer has not fulfilled their obligations under workers compensation laws, then you may not get the full amount of money you need to make ends meet. In fact, there may be a lot more people who are entitled to money from your employer than there is money available.
Using a workers compensation lawyer can help you determine if the amount of money you are owed is accurate and that the plan of your employer is consistent with the law. A worker compensation lawyer will be able to tell you whether or not your employer has worked out a settlement with their insurance company for your case, or whether they offered to settle before reaching a decision point in court. If there is no agreement or offer, through a workers compensation lawyer it is possible to find out more about your case and any other options that might apply to you.
Workers compensation is provided by the employer but is a voluntary insurance plan. Generally, employers with a high-risk rate (i.e., large number of workers injured and/or claims or lawsuits revealed) may require the employee to enroll in the plan as a condition of employment. In some states, for example in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, employers may have no obligation to provide workers compensation when they choose not to: for example, by contracting away their obligations under the law.
Although voluntary benefits, workers compensation is required by many states and governments. In general, the employer’s liability for benefits is not affected by the employees’ decision to participate.
Workers compensation is a complicated subject with several types of coverage. Here are some of the most common forms:
Lump-sum payments, also called permanent partial disability (PPD). PPD pays a set amount to cover total income loss due to your injury or illness. An injury that prevents you from working full time may lead to PPD. A lump sum can be paid weekly, monthly or annually. The amount will be based on your wages and the extent of your disability. The employer pays for this coverage automatically in most states, although it’s funded by a state-run insurance plan.
Medical benefits (often called “first aid”) are the costs of both diagnosis and treatment resulting from work-related injuries or illnesses. Workers compensation coverage will cover the medical treatments and diagnosis of work injuries regardless of fault. The treatment or reimbursements may be paid directly to your doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, hospital or other medical facility. Usually it’s paid by a third party called an insurer (or group accident) that is owned by all the employers in a state.