Legal Professional?
Build Your Business

What Is the Workers' Compensation Act

Workers' compensation is dictated by state law. In fact, the first workers' compensation act in the United States was passed in 1902 by Maryland. Since then, all states have passed their own workers' compensation acts. In addition, the federal government has passed a number of federal workers' comp laws to provide benefits to federal employees.

Federal Workers' Compensation Act

The first federal workers' compensation act was passed in 1906. It is known as the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA).

FELA compensates railroad workers injured on the job. This law does not act the same as state workers' compensation laws of today. Rather than award compensation automatically, workers have to prove the railroad company was at fault for their injuries. In other words, if their work injured them and they can prove the railroad was at fault, they can then receive compensation.

Another federal workers' compensation act is the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA).

This act provides federal employees who are injured on the job with workers' compensation benefits. These benefits include compensation for lost wages due to missed days of work, compensation for medical bills, and vocational rehabilitation.

State Workers' Compensation Acts

Each state has its own workers' compensation act. If you have specific questions about your state's workers' compensation laws, you should contact an attorney who has experience handling workers' compensation claims.

State workers' compensation acts generally state that all employers-with a few exceptions-must purchase workers' compensation insurance.

This insurance serves two purposes. First, it compensates any employees injured in the course of their work. This compensation can take a number of forms including reimbursement for medical bills, as well as money for work-related disability. This insurance also protects the employer from being sued by an employee when a worker becomes injured.

Each state has its own administrative agency that handles the administration of workers' compensation laws. These agencies are often referred to as the state workers' comp board.

It is this board, or agency, that an employee may appeal to if he or she is denied workers' comp benefits by his or her employer's insurance carrier. The board will hold a hearing where the employee's workers' comp file is reviewed. This file will include comprehensive medical information regarding the employee's injury. A judge will review the case information and make a decision regarding workers' comp benefits.

Limits on Filing Workers' Comp Claims

Each state workers' compensation act has its own statute of limitations regarding the filing of a workers' compensation claim. A statute of limitations is what dictates the length of time a worker has to file a claim until the opportunity to file has expired.

For many states, the length of time a worker has to file a claim with his or her employer after injury occurs is no more than three months. In addition, the length of time an employee has to appeal a denial of workers' comp benefits to the proper state agency varies from about one to three years after the injury occurs.