When you get injured in a workplace accident, it can be hard to keep getting up every day and attending to your duties normally.
The good news is that you may be eligible to collect medical bills and lost wages if you suffer a workplace injury or illness, regardless of fault.
These benefits are often outlined under the workers’ compensation program. But what is it, and how do you collect the benefits you deserve?
Here is everything you need to know about workers’ compensation, including how it works.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill in the scope of their job.
Benefits offered under this program often include medical expenses, income replacement, and death benefits to the employee’s family.
Before receiving workers’ comp benefits after an injury or illness, an employee must file a workers’ comp claim. In other words, they must prove that the injury or illness is related to their work.
If the employer or their insurer refuses to pay on-the-job injury claims, the case may go to trial for the judge to decide.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you’ve suffered an injury on the job, there are certain steps you need to take to file a successful workers’ compensation claim. These often include:
Get Medical Treatment
Visiting the doctor should be the first step if you have been involved in a workplace-related accident. Doing this helps start your road to recovery and obtain medical records to justify and quantify your claim.
While you can see your own doctor after a workplace injury, it may not be the right thing to do based on your state laws. So, it is essential to see an approved doctor or physician in order to preserve your eligibility.
Know What is Covered and What is Not Covered in a Workers’ Comp
Not all injuries or illnesses are covered under the workers’ compensation program. For an injury claim to be valid, it must have occurred in the scope of your job.
However, your employer or their insurance company may not pay for injuries if they occur:
- While you are engaged in personal errands
- During horseplay or fighting
- Due to alcohol or drug abuse
Report Your Injury
Another essential step is notifying your employer about your injury or illness as soon as possible. Most states require employees to report work-related injuries within 30 days from the date of the accident, but the earlier, the better.
While you can still report your injury verbally, you should give your employer a detailed written notice. Also, requesting an accident injury report form from your employer is a good idea for easier follow-up.
After reporting your injury or illness, your employer will file a report with their workers’ compensation insurance company which may cater for your medical expenses and lost wages.
Follow Up on Your Claim
While laws vary from state to state, your employer has the responsibility to file your workers’ compensation claim with their insurance company within 21 days after notifying them about your injury.
Once a claim has been filed, you will receive notification from the insurance company.
You will then be assigned a case manager to work with throughout the process. Once your claim is approved, you will begin receiving benefits, including medical treatment and wage replacement.
What if Your Employer or Insurance Company Reject Your Workers’ Comp Claim?
Sometimes, employers or their insurance companies might deny valid on-the-job injury claims. If this happens, consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer promptly.
An experienced lawyer will review your case to determine its strength and provide you with a way forward.
If they believe your employer has a case, they’ll help you file a workers’ compensation lawsuit and ensure you are not taken advantage of during court proceedings.