Workers' compensation laws were designed to provide employees with certain basic rights when injured at work. These laws vary from state to state, so it is important to consult an experienced workers' compensation attorney in your area if you sustain a work-related injury. In general, you are entitled to receive payment for lost income, medical expenses, and rehabilitation costs incurred as a result of your work-related injury. Most states will allow you to collect 2/3 of your wage at the time of the injury while you are unable to work. If your injury is more serious and prevents you from ever returning to work, you may be entitled to a larger settlement to compensate you for future lost wages.
Some states will allow you to use the doctor of your choice when evaluating workplace injuries. However, most states require you to see the doctor that is provided under your employer's insurance. These doctors may not always look out for your best interest. Frequently, their diagnosis can be motivated by a desire to retain future workers' compensation business from your employer.
Always consult an attorney before agreeing to see your employer's doctor. The medical report from your examination can have a major impact on the benefits you receive.
The following injuries are typically covered by workers' compensation:
- Pre-existing conditions exacerbated at work
- Injuries caused during breaks, lunch hours, and work sponsored activities
- Diseases contracted by exposure to toxic chemicals at work
- Injuries sustained while performing your daily work responsibilities
- Injuries due to mental or physical stress at work
Generally, self-inflicted wounds, injuries caused by intentionally reckless behavior, and injuries sustained while intoxicated are not covered under worker's compensation.
The workers' compensation system is designed as a substitute for litigation. It clearly spells out the benefits you are entitled to in order to avoid costly lawsuits. Therefore, you cannot sue your employer due to a work-related accident.
The one exception to this rule occurs if your employer intentionally does something to cause your injury. However, you sometimes might be entitled to sue a third party (i.e. a machine manufacturer) if your injury was caused as a result of the third party's negligence. If you have been injured at work, please contact us to find an experienced workers' compensation attorney in your area.