What is Worker’s Compensation?
Worker’s Compensation (or workman’s comp) is a crucial part of the stability of our modern day workplace. In California, without a good compensation program in place, worker’s could be left out in the cold after an injury incident.
Workplace Injury in California
If you are on the job 8 hours-a-day 5 days-a-week, there is a definite risk of getting hurt. After all, your job takes up the bulk of your day! Worker’s compensation is an overarching program that gives employees the right to covered medical care or financial relief.
A stronger definition: “Worker’s Comp is a form of insurance that provides compensation medical care for employees who are injured in the course of employment, in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence. While plans differ between jurisdictions, especially in California, provision can be made for weekly payments in place of wages (functioning in this case as a form of disability insurance), compensation for economic loss (past and future), reimbursement or payment of medical and like expenses (functioning in this case as a form of health insurance), and benefits payable to the dependents of workers killed during employment. General damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages for employer negligence, are generally not available in worker compensation plans.” – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers_compensation
For worker’s compensation to take effect, an injury or illness has to occur during the course of standard employment.
The Catch with Workman’s Comp
As you may have noticed in the above definition, employees are often waved of their right to sue for negligence when participating in a worker’s compensation program. This allows companies to protect themselves from larger more detrimental settlements.
Punitive damages, or those incidences caused by neglect and negligence of an employer, are generally not a part of worker’s compensation cases.
The Importance of State
When it comes to workman’s comp, every state has its own set of rules and statutes.
One of the first things you have to do when considering workman’s comp is recognizing which state you are legally working in. From their, it is critical to acquire a skilled personal injury lawyer familiar with your state’s system.
As with any form of insurance, companies will often try to find any and every reason not to pay you. Sometimes they may be correct under the letter of the law, but to get your fair chance at financial or medical relief you need to come prepared with a competent attorney. At the very least, have one look over the details of your case. Most good attorney’s will provide you with a free legal consultation.
Work Injury Compensation Claim Solicitors
An individual may suffer harm at the workplace for any number of reasons. One of the most common reasons, though, is employer negligence. Employer negligence refers to an employer's failure to uphold his or her duties to his or her employees, putting them at risk for harm.
Generally, the employer's duty to his or her employees is to provide a reasonably safe work environment. Since different jobs have different levels of occupational risk, the standard of what is considered a safe workplace is not generally defined.
In spite of this, there are some basic measures that employers in any field should address. These safety measures are properly training employees to do their jobs, providing employees with the necessary tools and equipment to perform their tasks, and providing access to safety equipment.
Employers who fail in one of these basic duties may be guilty of negligence. This is troublesome because these conditions may make workplaces less safe for employees. As such, employees may be at greater risk for suffering harm at work.
Depending on the injury a worker suffers, he or she may be unable to return to work for several weeks or months. This time off of work can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in lost wages. On top of the lost wages, individuals will also have to pay for expensive medical treatment.
During this period, individuals may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits help keep an individual financially stable at times when they are unable to work because of an injury suffered on the job.
What To Do Following A Workplace Accident
Workman's compensation, or as it is often called, "Worker's Comp", is the name that refer to a system of laws that offers protection to injured workers. Its intended goal is to make sure that anyone who is injured at work receives medical care appropriate to their injury. The laws also provide for recovery of lost wages. When necessary, it provides for the retraining and rehabilitation necessary to return to the workforce. In the event a worker is killed on the job, benefits would extend under most circumstances to the worker's family.
Although the system of laws governing Worker's Comp makes recovery of benefits easier than in normal personal injury cases, it is not unusual to need the services of an attorney to protect your rights and to insure that you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled. There are attorneys that specialize in Worker's Comp laws, and it is advisable to seek one of them. Not only do laws vary from state to state, but often courts vary from city to city, so by all means, if your injury occurs in, say, Boston, than be sure to hire a Boston personal injury attorney to represent you.
There are a few things that could exclude you from coverage under Worker's Comp laws. Although this does depend on the jurisdiction, employees may lose their benefits if their injuries or death results from either willful misconduct or from intoxication.
In addition to normal Worker's Comp benefits there are some special federal laws which provide additional protection to certain classes of workers.
-----The Jones Act. Intended for seaman on U.S. flagged vessels
----The Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA). For employees of railroads engaged in interstate commerce.
----The Longshore and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act (LHWCA). For employees of certain classes of private maritime employers
----The Black Lung Benefits Act. For miners suffering from black lung disease.
It is not unusual for an injured employee to have some difficulty with either their employer or with the Worker's Compensation system. The employee usually has little knowledge of his rights although the employer is usually pretty sure about them. The employer also has some little tricks up their sleeves for minimizing their liability. The worker is walking through a minefield here, and this is where that Boston personal injury lawyer comes into the picture.
It is hard to even trust the doctor in these cases. Employees are often told they are fine to return to work by a doctor whose loyalty is much stronger to the employer than the employee. Another practice that is sometimes used by employers to limit Workman's Comp liability is to return the employee to work at a different position. This special position is a promotion that involves much less physical exertion, and the employee accepts it, and then in a couple of weeks he finds himself laid off and the position eliminated. Once he returned to work his Workman's Comp benefits ceased, and now he has lost them.
The attorney can guide you, and make sure you receive what you have coming to you under the law. These cases are procedural, and are not lawsuits as in non-work related personal injury. However, an exception is made when the injury is caused by a deliberate action of the employer, or when the employer fails to carry Workman's Comp Insurance even though required by law to do so. You then have the right to sue the employer outside the Workman's Comp system.
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