If you have been injured on the job, workers' compensation laws may entitle you to certain benefits. These benefits can include payment of medical bills, compensation while you're unable to work, vocational rehabilitation, permanent partial disability benefits, or total disability benefits. Your employer's workers' compensation insurance is responsible for paying these benefits.
Injuries typically covered by workers' comp include:
- Traumatic physical injuries
- Repeated trauma injuries
- Mental injuries
- Occupational diseases
If You've Been Injured on the Job
If you're injured while at work or develop a job-related occupational disease, you should notify your employer as quickly as possible. Deadlines will vary from state to state, but your ability to receive benefits may be limited if you wait to notify your employer.
Try to find out the name of your employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier. (Your company may be required to post this information in a place that's visible to workers.) You should still seek medical treatment and apply for workers' compensation without this information, but it may be easier if you know the name of the insurance carrier.
You should promptly seek medical treatment for your injury. Make sure to tell the doctor that your injury occurred on the job or in connection with your job. Once you've sought medical treatment for your injury or disease, you should consider contacting a workers' comp lawyer to help guide you through the process of applying for workers' compensation.
After you've received medical treatment, make sure that you formally notify your employer, in writing, before the deadline to receive workers' compensation benefits passes.
Types of Workers' Compensation Benefits
Workers compensation laws vary from state to state. A workers' compensation attorney in your area should be able to explain to you the application process and the benefits to which you are entitled.
Although your benefits may vary depending on what state or federal law applies, workers injured on the job--regardless of whether your employer was at fault--may be entitled to benefits that include:
- Medical care
- Temporary or permanent disability benefits designed to at least partially replace lost wages
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Educational assistance
- Death benefits
If you receive workers' compensation following an injury, you cannot sue your employer for additional compensation in connection with your injury. You may, however, be able to file a lawsuit against others involved in your injury. For example, if you were injured in an automobile accident while working and the other driver was at fault, you might be able to sue the other driver. Or if your injury was the result of a defective machine, you might be able to sue the machine manufacturer. A workers' compensation lawyer can advise you of your legal options.
Workers' Compensation for Federal Employees & Others
Federal government employees, those who worked on nuclear weapons, maritime workers, and coal miners would be covered under one of several federal workers' compensation programs.
- The Federal Employees' Compensation Act covers federal employees and postal workers for job-related injuries and diseases
- The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act covers U.S. Department of Energy employees, predecessor agencies, contractors and subcontractors who are ill as a result of working with nuclear weapons
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act and related acts, including the Defense Base Act covers maritime workers
- The Black Lung Benefits Act provides compensation to miners totally disabled by black lung disease as well as their survivors
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