Workers’ Compensation – An Overview
Employees in the U.S. rely on workers’ compensation when they’re injured on the job. Workers’ compensation benefits are commonly awarded for work-related injury, illness and death that occur at or as a result of work. Workers’ compensation may cover medical expenses, lost wages and benefits to survivors.
The workers’ compensation system is set up so that if an employee receives benefits through it for a particular injury or disease, he or she cannot sue the employer for the same injury or disease. If you do sue your employer (which is rare), you give up your right to benefits under workers’ compensation law.
Because the law can be difficult to navigate, it’s best to work with an experienced and skilled workers’ compensation attorney to help you with your claim.
Employer Retaliation against the Workers’ Compensation Claimant
In some ways, workers’ compensation can be seen as a compromise. Employers accept responsibility for employees’ injuries under workers’ compensation even if they are not at fault, but they don’t have to worry about being tied up in court with lawsuits that might cost them a lot of money. At the same time, employees give up their right to sue their employer in court in exchange for guaranteed benefits paid in a timely manner. These benefits are often lower than what might be obtained through a lawsuit. However, as with all lawsuits, no outcome is guaranteed, and the injured employee takes the risk of ending up with nothing.
Unfortunately, even in this spirit of compromise, sometimes an employer may retaliate against an employee for filing or even talking about filing a workers’ compensation claim. This could include the employer demoting an employee, reprimanding an employee or threatening to fire the employee. In most states, employees have legal rights and remedies in response to such adverse employer actions.
If you’re dealing with workers’ compensation, it’s best to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
Sadly, deaths do sometimes occur in the workplace. Whether the employee suffered a fatal accident at work, or developed an illness through the course of employment that led to untimely death, a survivor may file a claim for death benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation program.
If you are the family member or dependent of an employee who died as a result of illness or injury in the course of work, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney today to discuss possible death benefits due to you.
Rather than Collecting Workers’ Compensation, May I Bring a Lawsuit Against My Employer?
In most circumstances, no. Workers’ compensation is usually the only legal remedy for an employee injured or sickened in the course of employment. The public policy behind workers’ compensation envisions a bargain between employers and employees. In this bargain, workers give up the right to sue their employers in court in exchange for the guaranty of workers’ compensation benefits. This reduces tension in the workplace by creating a predictable method for resolving employer-employee conflict.
While the majority of cases dealing with injury, sickness and death as a result of work will be handled through the workers’ compensation system, in some cases, you may be able to sue your employer instead. It’s vital to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about your situation if you think you have a case against your employer.
What Are the Vocational Rehabilitation Rights of Injured Workers?
Vocational rehabilitation is the process of rebuilding work skills as part of recovering from an injury or illness. Sometimes an injured individual can eventually return to his or her previous job. When returning to the previous job isn’t an option, it’s necessary to train the individual for a new type of job.
Vocational rehabilitation may be covered by the state (depending on state law), the employer, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer or some combination of the three.
Frequently Asked Questions about Workers’ Compensation
What is workers’ compensation? What’s covered? What kinds of benefits are paid out? What if my claim is denied? Get answers to your common questions about workers’ compensation here.