Workers’ Compensation Law

Workers’ compensation is insurance that provides benefits and/or medical care for workers for job-related injuries or diseases without regard to fault. State workers’ compensation and occupational disease laws establish workers’ compensation benefits available to employees with such injuries. The Federal Employment Compensation Act provides workers’ compensation for non-military, federal employees. Many of its provisions are typical of most workers’ compensation laws. These laws also provide benefits for dependents of those workers who are killed because of work-related accidents or illnesses.

The act covers medical expenses due to the disability and may require the employee to undergo job retraining. According to the act, a disabled employee receives two-thirds of his or her normal monthly salary during the disability and may receive more for permanent physical injuries or if he or she has dependents.

Workers’ compensation laws were put in place to balance the rights of workers and employers, as a way to settle disagreements and disputes quickly and privately. Both the employer and employee give up some legal rights under these laws.

So, employee who collects workers’ compensation benefits generally cannot bring a civil action against the employer for the job-related injury or disease. In return, employers give up the right to challenge the employee’s negligence, if any, which may have contributed to the injury or illness.

For a work-related injury, employee may be eligible for compensation for any of the injuries listed below:

  • Any physical injury on the job, which can include exposure to dust, toxins, hearing loss caused by workplace and repetitive motion injury – such as carpal tunnel.
  • Preexisting conditions that the workplace accelerates or aggravates. For example, spine injury, even though you do not notice the pain from the injury until later.
  • Injuries caused during breaks, lunch hours, and work-sponsored activities (such as a company picnic), and at-work injuries caused by company facilities, such as a chair in the company lunchroom.
  • Injuries resulting from mental and physical strain brought on by increased work duties or work-related stress. Mental distress caused by something other than an initial physical injury is sometimes excluded from workers’ compensation completely, however, depending on state.

A claim is paid if the employer or insurance carrier agrees that the injury or illness is work-related. If they dispute the claim, no cash benefits are paid until the workers’ compensation law judge decides who is right. If a worker is not receiving benefits because the employer or insurance carrier is arguing that the injury is not job-related, he or she may be eligible for disability benefits in the meantime.

Although workers’ compensation laws are meant to provide injured workers with fast relief, the claim process can nonetheless be complicated and involve time-sensitive deadlines and a great deal of paperwork. So, hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer is strongly advised. A workers’ compensation lawyer has expertise in the field and knows how to sort through all the forms and how to do things right the first time to prevent a denial of your claim. An attorney specializing in this area will be accustomed to dealing with emotionally-charged proceedings and employers who may not have their worker’s best interest in mind.

Thomas Elliott

Education: Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, New York. Pace University, White Plains, New York.
Professional Associations and Memberships: American Bar Association, New York State Bar, The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Brooklyn Bar Association, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

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