If an employee is injured at work, workers’ compensation benefits can provide medical care relatively quickly. Social Security benefits and personal injury cases can be held up in court for months. One benefit of workers’ compensation claims is that they can be settled in as few as twenty-five days. If an insurer disputes the claim, the law generally requires completion of all litigation and that a decision be filed resolving the issues within ninety-days of the expedited hearing.
A worker’s compensation injury is one that takes place in the workplace. Injuries can be mental or physical. They may be an injury or occupational disease.
Some typical workers’ compensation accidents are:
- Slip and fall injuries
- Lifting injuries
- Fall from a height
- Any trauma that happens at work and causes an injury
Some examples of occupational diseases include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hearing loss
- Repetitive injury caused to a joint
- Asbestos-related disease
- Silicosis (lung diseases caused by inhaling silica dust)
Occupational diseases develop over time and are caused by conditions in the workplace.
Time Limits and Workers’ Compensation
There are important deadlines to remember when filing a workers’ compensation claim:
- If injured at work, an employee has 30 days to notify the employer of the injury.
- In the case of occupational disease, the claim must be filed within two years of the employee knowing the disease was work-related.
The Workers’ Compensation Board will require proof that the injury is work-related. The Board will look at medical records. These include opinions and medical documents provided by physicians or chiropractors. Reports from physical therapists, nurses, or physician assistants are not enough under the law.
If a claim is filed, there are two types of basic benefits under workers’ compensation: lost wages and medical care.
An injured employee may be eligible for up to $803.21 per week for injuries on or after July 1, 2013. This rate changes yearly. It is based on an average determined by the Department of Labor.
Medical treatment for a work-related injury or illness is covered in full. An injured employee does not have to pay anything out-of-pocket. The coverage for treatment is determined by the Workers’ Compensation Board’s guidelines.
Workers’ Compensation Covers a Variety of Circumstances
An injured employee may be wondering if a claim can be filed, or may be unaware of the procedures and circumstances. There are several types of circumstances where an injured employee may be able to file a claim.
Pain From a Specific Body Part
Workers often suffer through repeated traumas and keep working without making a claim. If pain in a certain body part (ex. back pain) causes you to stop working, consider filing a claim. Even if a worker has an old or established claim, an additional workers’ compensation claim may be filed.
Even with laws in place to protect them, employees may suffer hearing loss in the workplace. A worker who has experienced hearing loss due to their workplace may file a claim. A worker may be eligible for medical care, including hearing aids, due to permanent loss of hearing. If a worker has left a job, the claim must be filed within two years and ninety days of the last date worked. Or filed within ninety days from when the claimant knew or, should have known the hearing loss was due to employment.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Repetitive use of the hands and arms may cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Workers who use vibrating equipment may also be at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Office workers who perform repetitive motions and assembly line workers may also be at risk. If repetitive motions in the workplace have caused carpal tunnel syndrome, a claim may be filed.
Motor Vehicle Accidents and the Workplace
Injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents can be covered by workers’ compensation if the injury occurred in the course of work. If a claimant was injured while running an errand for an employer, or if the job involves travel, it can be considered work-related. Generally, travel to and from work is not covered.
Injuries on the Employer’s Property
Injuries that happen on the employer’s property are generally covered. Parking lots that become slippery in the winter are common causes of work injuries. If a vehicle in an employer’s parking lot strikes an employee, this is generally covered. Auto accidents that happen at parking lot entrances may also be covered, especially if the set up of the entrance causes risk.
There are many circumstances where workers’ compensation benefits apply. If an injured employee is not sure whether a claim can be filed, a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can assist. Employees injured in the workplace are entitled to benefits such as medical treatment and lost wage replacement. These benefits can help an employee to recover after a work accident has occurred.