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.
Surveillance in a Workers Compensation Claim
If you are hurt on the job, your employer's insurance company may offer you a lump sum settlement. The insurance company is not required to do so but they may and then you must ask yourself whether you should take it or fight for more at trial. There are many factors, even above and beyond the actual amount, that go into answering that question. Before you accept a settlement from an insurance company, you should talk with an experienced attorney about the facts of your case and the best course of action for you.
Settlement offer amount- The amount isn't the only factor to consider in deciding whether to accept a settlement or go to trial, but it is extremely important. An experienced attorney can tell you if the amount offered is in the ballpark of fair and reasonable. Some of the things he will consider are whether the amount compensates you for the permanent nature of your injuries, whether it covers disputed medical bills or other medical costs and whether it compensates you for future lost wages, among other things. Also, you and your attorney will devise a game plan of perhaps a first negotiation for a higher amount and, if that fails, to proceed to trial.
Timing of receipt of settlement amount as opposed to trial - Even if there is a very good chance that you could win a higher amount at trial, settling now for a lesser amount might actually be the wiser decision for you, depending on your circumstances. Do you desperately need the money and can't wait for a trial? Has the whole ordeal been hard on your health and the stress of a trial could only make it worse?
Timing with respect to your health - It is extremely important to remember that you should never settle your case until you are at the healthiest you can be and don't currently need more treatment for your injury. You do not want to be in a situation where you settle only to learn that you need more treatment. You can't then go back to the insurance company. Once you settle, it's over. Illinois work injury attorneys know this standard for waiting until your treatment is complete. If it seems your attorney is not considering this but is making a decision based on what will get him paid quicker, find a new lawyer.
Chance of success at trial -Your attorney will consider your case and whether the disputed issues are likely to be resolved in your favor. What kind of evidence do you have? If it is solid, why not show it at trial? If it's not, is a trial too risky? Settlements are a guaranteed amount and closure to your situation. You can't appeal a settlement after you accept and receive the money. On the hand, a trial is risky - you could get a much higher amount or you could not. Your attorney should clearly explain to you his assessment of your chances at trial and a risk/reward analysis.
Future medical rights - As noted above, when you settle, there is no appeal. You sign a contract that has consequences your attorney should explain to you, such as the forfeit of all future medical rights for treatment related to your injury. This means that if your injury unexpectedly gets worse next year and you need major surgery, workers' compensation will not cover it. You signed a settlement and it's over. A new, different injury or accident in the future is a new unrelated matter but, as for your original injury, you won't be compensated if you need further treatment.
If, however, you go to trial and win, your future medical rights relating to your injury never cease. This means that if your injury unexpectedly gets worse next year or ten years later and you need major surgery, the insurance company will have to pay for it. So, you may not get a lump sum settlement but rather payment over time. Only you and your attorney know what the best option is for you.
Whether to settle or go to trial is not a simple decision but one that you and your experienced attorney must carefully assess to make sure you devise a strategy that best serves you.
How do I File a Worker's Compensation Claim
Suffered an accident at work? Did you know you could be entitled to make a work injury claim for compensation if you have sustained injuries at work? As an employee, you have the legal right to pursue a work injury claim if you got hurt due to your employer's negligence. Every employer owes a duty of care to their workers. By law, they are required to protect their workers from injuries and accidents. Unfortunately, work accidents are a commonplace and they can occur under numerous circumstances.
Accidents at work can occur as a result of making use of unsuitable equipment, defective equipment, workplace hazards, assaults at work, lack of protective clothing, lack of training etc. Even mistakes made by employees could result in serious injuries and accidents.
Employers are required to adhere to a number of work related regulations so that they could minimise risk of injuries. These regulations cover all the main areas of general health and safety, working practices, risk assessments, training, manual handling and so on. There are specific regulations as well that applies to specific types of risks.
If an accident has occurred at work that was not your fault, then there are a number of steps that you must take to be able to make a work injury claim.
Reporting the accident - apart from small companies where five or less than five people are employed, every company is required to keep an accident book. If an accident has taken place at workplace, then details of the accident must be recorded in this book. So the first step that must be taken if you have been injured in an accident at work is reporting the accident and getting the details recorded in the company's accident book.
Obtaining photographic evidences - photos of the cause of the accident can help in proving liability. For example, if the accident was caused by defective machinery, then having photographs can help you prove that your employer was negligent.
Seek medical attention - whether the injuries are serious or minor, seeking medical attention will help you document your injuries. It will also help you receive the right treatment and make recovery quickly. After all, your health and safety should be your top priority.
Seek legal representation - to start a work injury claim, you must take help from expert work injury lawyers. This is because these injury lawyers will not only assist you with your case, but help you recover the level of compensation to which you are entitled.
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