Seeking Workers’ Compensation? Here Are 7 Facts You Should Know.
All Western New Yorkers know that our vital roles in the workforce are what propel our great state forward every single day. Educators, construction workers, nurses, chefs, clerks, engineers, and those in all other professions provide the solid foundation upon which our society is built. As long as we work diligently and are treated fairly, we can contribute to the common good.
Though our employers may strive to ensure that we are safe while on the job, it is always possible to have an accident. Experiencing an injury at work is hardly a stress-free event, and serious complications can occur when major injuries are sustained. When injuries received on the job prevent someone from working, seeking workers’ comp is an effective way to pay off medical bills while slowly returning to full health. If you find yourself unable to work because of an injury or illness, prepare yourself for the road to obtaining workers’ compensation by remembering these fundamental facts.
1. Your Highest Priority Is to Get Medical Attention and Take Stock of Your Injuries.
Seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the job site accident and inform your physician that this is a workers’ compensation case. Be certain to tell your physician that it is a work-related injury every time you seek treatment, and remind her or him to file report with the Workers’ Compensation Board and insurance company. It is vital to document your injury and the extent to which it limits your ability to work.
2. Technically Speaking, There Are Only Two Types of Injuries.
Workers’ compensation contemplates two types of injuries: schedulable injuries and non-schedulable injuries. Schedulable injuries are typically those sustained on the arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, toes, eyes, and ears. When you reach your maximum level of recovery from a schedulable injury, your attorney will work to ensure that you receive a scheduled loss award. Non-scheduled injuries are most often those occurring to the head, neck, and back, such as head injuries, hernias, and certain diseases. These are typically injuries from which a person suffers a permanent disability. Non-schedulable benefits are based on the employee’s permanent loss of earning capacity.
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3. The Path to Receiving Workers’ Compensation Is Not Always Smooth.
Workers’ compensation in general should pay a percentage of wages as long the disability lasts, cover all medical treatment and transportation expenses related to the accident, and pay a specified amount for permanent injuries to certain body parts. Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation process does not always work as expected or is not enough to protect the employee fully. In these situations, an experienced legal team can provide a worker the help he or she needs.
4. You May Be Eligible for Compensation Even If You Injured Yourself…
When an employee is injured, he or she can file a workers’ compensation claim. Assuming the case meets certain basic requirements, the employee will receive weekly cash benefits and payment of medical bills, regardless of who was at fault for the injury. This means an employee who was directly responsible for her or his own injury can still receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, in most cases the employee cannot sue his or her employer even if the employer may have been directly responsible for the injuries.
5. …But Not Every Possible Injury or Illness Is Necessarily Covered.
In order to recover workers’ compensation, a worker must have been accidentally injured while on the job in her or his position as a working employee. Additionally, the injuries must be related to the job. Even if you meet the requirements, a worker could still be ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if he or she were acting inappropriately or under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the injury, or if you were acting inappropriately while on the job.
6. Workers’ Compensation Does Not Mean That You Will Receive Your Usual Pay.
An injured employee is eligible to obtain all required medical care related to the work injury or illness. Unfortunately, you are not entitled to receiving the entire amount of your usual paycheck when you make a workers’ compensation claim. In fact, the most you can receive each week is two-thirds of your weekly wage. Sadly, it is likely to be even less than that.
7. Under Certain Circumstances, You Can Sue.
If you are injured on the job, you cannot sue your employer for compensation for those injuries. There are two major exceptions to this rule: if your injuries were the result of your employer’s intentional or egregious conduct, or if your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance. Even if you are legally prevented from suing your employer, you may be able to sue the responsible party if your injuries were due to a defective or toxic product, or if your injury was the fault of someone not connected in any way to your employer.
Once you have sustained an injury at work, stress and disappointment can follow. Workers’ compensation is a means for injured workers to receive the care they need in order to recover and return to work, but there are no guarantees that claims will be honored or provide substantial compensation. To ensure that the Workers’ Compensation Board provides you with benefits you deserve under New York State law, be sure to contact one of our experienced Buffalo workers compensation lawyers once you have made the decision to file a claim. You may also find benefit to downloading our workers comp guide to help you further understand the facts