Work-related injuries are serious matters. Physical pain and suffering are only compounded by the inability to work and provide for yourself and your family. Even though your employer may be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, an experienced lawyer can help alleviate the headache and confusion of trying to handle a workers’ compensation claim alone.
At each stage of the workers’ compensation process, there are procedures, deadlines and rules that must be strictly followed. Since most workers are not versed in the legal requirements of a workers’ compensation claim, it makes sense to retain a lawyer who knows the law and will fight for your rights.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
- Get the Medical Attention You Need – The very first thing you must do if you are injured at work is get the medical attention you need. Whether this means calling 911, visiting the emergency room, or going to an urgent care facility, get yourself treated by a medical professional after an injury.
- Report the Injury – Once you are physically well enough, you must notify your employer about the injury. This step is important because, if you don’t report the injury, you could lose your right to workers’ compensation benefits. The insurance company, doctors and lawyers will need information regarding the date of accident and the circumstances surrounding your injury. When reporting, be sure to answer all questions asked, and be mindful to describe all current symptoms arising from the injury.
- Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney – A workers’ compensation lawyer is your advocate in the case. Your employer and their insurance company will have lawyers, and so should you. A lawyer can level the playing field and fight to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
- Submit Paperwork to the Compensation Board – Once you and your attorney have completed all required reports and have documents verifying all of your injuries, medical costs, recovery time, and medication requirements, you then must submit all paperwork to the compensation board. The board will review all pertinent documents and may contact you for follow-up documentation.
What to Expect from Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation is a carefully calculated benefits package that is designed to reimburse you for medical expenses already paid, cover the costs of future treatments and keep a continuous source of income if you are unable to return to work due to your injuries. Not everyone receives the same type or amount of benefits as the benefits are customized to each individual and each injury.
The most common form of workers’ compensation benefits is reimbursement or direct payment of medical expenses. Your workers’ compensation benefits should cover the costs of all emergency care you received, including ambulance services, emergency room care, surgery, if required, pharmaceutical costs, hospitalization costs, follow-up doctors visits, and any medical equipment costs incurred. Be sure to keep copies of all bills, receipts and prescriptions to ensure that you are able to collect the full amount you had to spend out of pocket for your medical care.
Disability pay is designed to prevent a loss of income while you are recovering from injuries. There are three kinds of disability pay depending on the type of injuries you suffered.
Temporary Disability covers lost wages from work missed due to your injury. This would include the time from your injury, including any hospitalization time and recovery at home. Typically, temporary disability pay is about two thirds of your normal income, paid out every two weeks during your recovery. Different metrics are used to determine the exact amount based on each case.
Permanent Disability is paid to those who have lost the ability to compete for jobs against uninjured workers. If your injuries have left you permanently unable to work in the same role you had before your injury, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits. The amount is typically based on the income you could have earned had you not been injured. It is important to note that receiving permanent disability benefits will preclude you from working in the same physical capacity you did prior to your accident. You may not resume work while still collecting permanent disability benefits.
Vocational Rehabilitation may be provided if you cannot return to work in the same capacity as your previous position, but you can return to work in a different role. In cases like these, your vocational rehabilitation benefits may cover the cost of being trained in a new role, plus a portion of the difference in income from your old job to your new job.
Types of Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Virtually any injury suffered on the job can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Serious injuries can result in chronic pain, disability, paralysis, or terminal illness. Some of the most common injuries are:
- Joint injuries – Injuries that effect the joint function in knees, shoulders, elbows or hips. These could include injuries that result in loss of full extension or mobility or injuries that result in chronic pain or require joint replacement surgery.
- Severe Neck and Back Injuries – An accident or injury that causes whiplash, herniated discs, or restricted use of the neck and back may be compensable. These injuries can cause chronic pain or limit motion or function, making it difficult to work in the same capacity as before your injury.
- Amputations – Loss of a limb due to a work accident may be covered by workers’ compensation. Further compensation beyond medical costs may be considered if your amputation limits your ability to work in the same role.
- Head Injuries – Blows to the head, fractured skull, brain bleeds and concussions are all head injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation. The amount of benefits you receive will be based on the severity of the injuries.
- Ear and Eye Injuries – If your hearing and/or sight are damaged at work, you could receive compensation to cover the costs of any eyewear like contacts or glasses that result from your injury as well as necessary hearing aids or implants as needed for you to regain the ability to return to work.
- Burn Injuries – Some of the most painful injuries suffered on the job are severe burns from either heat or chemicals. Workers’ compensation should cover the costs of skin grafts, pain medication and recovery time for these injuries.
- Broken Bones and Fractures – If any bones are broken or fractured on the job, workers’ compensation should allow you to collect for lost wages while you heal, and cover medical costs for treatment and recovery.
- Repetitive Injuries and Occupational Disease – Repetitive use injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff injuries and other painful ailments that come from your body having to repeat the same posture, motions or actions again and again over time. When these result in long-term damage to joints, they are considered an occupational disease and may be covered by workers’ compensation.
- Toxic Exposure – Illnesses or diseases caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or other hazardous substances like asbestos or radiation may be covered by workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact the Reinartz Law Firm for Workers’ Compensation Claims
Our experienced staff of lawyers and legal professionals can help you with your workers’ compensation claim. Call our offices for a free initial consultation of your case.