What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation, also known as “workman’s comp”, is a type of insurance that many employers are required to obtain, in case one of their employees is injured or becomes ill while working. This includes both sudden accidents and injuries or illnesses that develop over time, and the benefits are generally paid out by the state-run fund or a private insurance company. If you are the injured employee, the following may be covered:
- Payment or reimbursement of medical bills and any needed physical therapy
- Lost wages if you’re unable to work for a period of time
- Compensation for other related economic losses, including expected future losses
Workers’ comp was developed to protect employees from unsafe work environments, holding employers accountable when someone was hurt so the employee would not have to suffer large medical bills, lost wages, a lost job, and permanent disabilities on their own.
Before workers’ comp, these types of situations ended up in court with the injured employee having to sue their employer and prove that they were indeed injured because of the employer’s lack of safety equipment or negligence. Many jobs are far safer than they once were, but accidents still happen. In the most extreme situations, if an employee dies on the job, their dependents may be able to claim life insurance from the employer.
Accepting Workers’ Comp
If you’re faced with a work-related injury or illness, you will have some decisions to make. It’s important to be aware of your specific state’s laws regarding workers’ compensation claims and the deadlines you must meet to collect the benefits your state provides. However, if you are faced with an extreme situation that resulted in some sort of poor safety practices by your employer, you may consider suing them instead. Accepting workers’ compensation causes you to give up your right to sue, in exchange for not being required to prove the legal fault of your employer for the situation. Speaking with a lawyer will help you determine what the best course of action would be for your unique situation.
Are You Covered?
If you think you have a qualified claim, or even if you’re unsure about the situation or the laws that apply to you in the state you work in, speak with experienced workers’ compensation lawyers. It never hurts to ask, especially if you are already paying medical bills that you could potentially be reimbursed for. Working with a lawyer becomes even more important if your injuries are life-threatening or could result in permanent disabilities.