Some jobs are inherently dangerous: for example if you work in construction, manufacturing, mining, utility repairs, or any profession that uses heavy machinery or sharp tools. However, after any work-related injury, you are entitled to compensation.
Getting compensated is important. The severity of your injury and the length of your recovery process may mean that you will be (or were) out of work for a significant period of time. Even after returning to work, you may be limited in ways you weren’t before, and you could have trouble finding another job down the road if you might need to. Workers comp ensures you are paid for medical care, rehabilitation, and wage replacement if you have to miss work. That way, you’re not drowning in losses later on.
How To File A Claim
You should file a claim with your employer as soon as you are injured. Although states vary widely on the number of days you have after an injury, most states require that you are given at least a month to fill out the necessary paperwork and file your claim.
Keep detailed notes on what happened and how you got injured, and make sure you have all the right medical documentation on hand, including bills and treatment records, to support your claim. This will help you if either or employer or the insurance company decides to contest your claim later.
Claim forms are provided by and submitted to your employer. Once you submit them, always follow up to make sure they have submitted the forms to the right insurance carrier.
If your claim isn’t disputed by employer or insurance company, the insurance company will send you instructions on how to submit medical bills for compensation. Most often, you are entitled to compensation starting one week after your injury.
Each state has rules on how much money you should receive. If the injury is temporary, your medical bills will be paid and you’ll receive a percentage (about two-thirds) of your current gross wage while your away. If the disability is permanent, expect to be compensated based on the predetermined value of the body part. A completely disabled thumb for example, is worth between $300 and $350 a week.
When Things Get Tricky
What If Your Employer Says They Don’t Have Workers Comp
In every state, your employer is required to have workers comp insurance, provided there are at least a handful of employees (usually 3-5) at your workplace. In some states, an employer only has to have one employee. In a case where your employer really doesn’t have workers comp insurance, you can sue in court for the full amount of your losses. In some cases, this is even better than workers’ comp, because you can avoid the arbitrary cap on workers comp payments. Plus, you might win the right to more income for emotional distress (called “pain and suffering” in legal terms”), as well as for punitive damages – a fine your employer must pay for creating an unsafe workplace.
What If Your Employer Won’t Provide You With The Claim Forms
States also require that your employers cooperate fully with injury and workers’ comp claims. If you suspect mishandling or mismanagement of your claim forms, seek legal help.
You have plenty of legal options for other situations as they arise as well. For help with workers comp, you can contact your state’s Workers Compensation Office or call an attorney.
Remember, if you’re injured, don’t wait! You could minimize your losses, and at least lift the burden of financial stress during a long road of recovery.