Workers' compensation is a procedure that is set up by each state to compensate injured workers through an administrative process instead of a lawsuit.
How do you make a workers' compensation claim?
Typically, after a worker has been injured while on the job and in the course of employment, notice must be given to the employer of the worker's injury. Some states merely require simple notice while others require written notice. Additionally, different states have different time requirements for making a workers' compensation claim. The time may be as short as ten days from the day of the injury or as long as six months or a year after the injury. It is important for you to contact an attorney in your state to determine the time limit for making a claim so you can pursue coverage under your state's Workers' Compensation Act.
Is a workers' compensation claim a lawsuit?
A workers' compensation claim is an administrative process and not a lawsuit. If you were injured in an automobile accident, you would be required, as the plaintiff in a lawsuit, to prove that another party was negligent, that that negligence caused your injury, and how much damage or injury you suffered. In a workers' compensation claim, all you must do is demonstrate that you were injured in the course of your employment.
Another big difference between a lawsuit and a workers' compensation claim is the type of damages or compensation that is available to the worker. In an automobile accident lawsuit, you could recover damages for the cost of your medical bills, past and future; scarring and disfigurement; lost wages, past and future; as well as the pain and suffering associated with an injury. Workers' compensation acts throughout the country typically do not provide the same wide range of damages that are available in a lawsuit for negligence.
Workers' compensation claims will usually pay for medical bills, provided by approved physicians, a certain amount of money on a weekly basis, often referred to as total temporary compensation, and perhaps some type of lump sum award if the individual would like to resolve the claim and waive any future claim for additional medical expenses.
Again, each state has its own workers' compensation law and the states vary as to what type of benefits are payable under the law.
Therefore, it is advisable to retain an attorney who practices workers' compensation law. He or she can properly apprise you of what is required to prove a workers' compensation claim as well as what benefits may be available in your state.
Do different types of injuries have different types of value?
Yes. Workers' compensation laws often utilize lists of different types of injuries with prescribed numbers of weeks of compensation or levels of compensation for each type of injury. Often referred to as scheduled injuries, these are injuries such as the loss of an eye, finger, toe, hand, foot, lower leg, etc. Each type of injury is given a prescribed formula for determining the compensation. Injuries that relate to the trunk of the body or the back are often referred to as "total body" or "body as a whole" injuries. These injuries usually result in higher awards because they have a greater debilitating effect on an injured person. Again, it is always best to consult with an attorney in your state so that he or she can properly apprise you as to how your state addresses these workers' compensation issues.