What Is Workers Compensation

Simply put, workers' compensation is a system of insurance. Each state has its own workers' compensation laws, which are in place to handle claims from employees who are injured on the job. These laws are strict liability fault and negligence by the employer are not considered in order to collect benefits. Punitive damages are not available to the employee. The legal defenses available in a civil action, such as comparative negligence and assumption of the risk, are not available to the employer in workers' compensation.

When an employee receives an injury as a result of his or her employment, the employer may have a responsibility to provide compensation for medical care, lost wages, and rehabilitation expenses. Compensation to a worker injured on the job is determined and administered under each individual state's workers' compensation laws. Some employers may be exempt due to size, others may be self-insured, and some may be required to have coverage through an independent insurance provider.

Generally, workers' compensation laws are administered under what is referred to as strict liability, which means that it is not an admission of fault when an employer provides benefits for an injured worker. Under these laws, a worker who is hurt or suffering from the effects of an occupational exposure is entitled to file a claim for compensation to cover the expenses incurred due to the work-related injury. Pursuing an action for negligence or willfully causing the employee's injury would be filed separately.

Under these laws, the injured employee has an obligation to report the injury within a certain time frame. Most states require that rules about reporting requirements for work-related injuries must be posted in a prominently visible place within the typical work area.

Once reported, the employer's obligation begins with offering to send the employee to a physician or medical care facility. Some large employers provide a company doctor or nurse who provides first aid, minor medical care and injury evaluation. Typically, personal health care providers will refuse to treat or offer a diagnosis for a work-related injury without prior approval from the employer or its workers' compensation insurance provider. Also, it is important to note that personal health insurance coverage is not required to pay for care for work-related injuries.

A compensable injury will eventually be classified as temporary or permanent, and partial or total. This classification is based largely on the workers' compensation physician's report, and helps to determine the type or duration of certain benefits. Depending on the nature of the injury and the prognosis for recovery or rehabilitation, payments may be for a short period, over a long period, or provided in one or more lump sums.

Employees and employers have the right to obtain legal advice and representation whenever either feels it may be in their best interest to do so. If you or someone you know has been injured at work, and you want to learn more about your legal rights, contact a worker's compensation lawyer or attorney today. You can find a workers' compensation lawyer by visiting the American Bar Association website. The American Bar Association website features a lawyer locator function which allows the user to search through workers' compensation lawyer and attorney profiles in each specific city and state. Access to the site and profiles is absolutely free.


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