Each year, millions of workers in the USA are injured on the job. If you are one of those people with a job-related injury or illness, you may qualify for workers’ compensation payments, which are mandated by federal or state law, during the period that you are not capable of returning to work. How do you know if you qualify and, if so, how much money you can receive in workers’ compensation?
The two primary factors are whether you are an employee of a company and whether the injury is directly related to your employment. Eligibility rules can vary by state. In some states, agricultural workers and workers in certain other industries are not eligible to receive workers’ compensation. You also are not likely to be eligible if it can be shown that you were intoxicated at work at the time of injury, or if you cannot pass a drug test, which is typically in the form of urinalysis. Also, if it can be shown that you intentionally injured yourself, you will not be eligible for workers’ compensation. If there are further doubts, it is best to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
It depends on where you were and on the laws in your state governing work-related injury. In general, an injury is covered by workers’ compensation if it occurs within the scope of employment. For example, if the employee is traveling and injured at the hotel where he is staying, if he is running an errand for the employer, or his job is to drive a vehicle, the injury is likely to be covered. If there is a company-sponsored event off the premises of the workplace, an injury obtained may be covered by workers’ compensation unless the worker was intoxicated.
Most workers’ compensation attorneys will review your case for free, and many lawyers will work on a contingency basis, meaning that they do not collect payment unless the case is resolved in your favor.
The first step is to notify your employer of the injury immediately. If you do not do this within 24 hours, you may not be eligible for benefits. Both you and your employer must submit a claim to your state’s workers’ compensation authority in the form of a document, the names of which vary by state. Consult an attorney to ensure that your application is complete and correct.
You are paid a percentage of your after-tax earnings based on an average of your earnings in the last year. The percentage may vary by state, but is typically 75 or 80 percent. Your tax filing status, dependents and marital status may also be considered. Many employers provide accident leave for the first week or two after an injury, during which you may be paid your full wage and it is not deducted from your accrued sick leave. If your job is a high-risk job where employees are frequently injured, the percentage of your normal wage you are paid may be higher.
Workers’ compensation covers medical expenses, but most states permit the employer to choose the medical provider in the initial stage of treatment.
The employer pays for the benefits, but they may be intermediated by your state’s workers’ compensation authority. As such, medical bills must be sent to the workers’ compensation authority, who then bills your employer. The authority also collects lost wages due to disability from your employer and distributes them to you.
Yes. Government benefits are considered when determining the amount of your workers’ compensation payments, as well as other benefits you obtain from your employer such as sick or vacation leave.
If your medical provider says that it is a job you are physically capable of doing and you refuse, you may lose your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.