Workers’ compensation is a government-mandated insurance system that provides employees with medical care, wage replacement, and other types of benefits in exchange for relinquishing their right to sue their employer for damages resulting from the latter’s negligence.
Workers’ compensation laws aim to help protect both the employer and employee in case of accidents and injuries in the workplace. To have a better understanding of these laws, here are some things that you should know:
- Workers’ Compensation Laws Vary From State To State
Workers’ compensation laws are mandatory for every state. However, the coverage and benefits vary from one state to the other. Some states have special workers’ compensation laws applicable to federal government employees and specific industries.
- Benefits Are Only Applicable To Injuries Acquired At Work
The benefits stipulated under the workers’ compensation laws are only applicable for injuries acquired at work or are job-related. A work-related injury happens while you’re doing your job or at the workplace.
An injury may also be classified as work-related if the accident occurred in a company-owned truck or vehicle. Locations and instances may also include social gatherings like company events or parties.
- Benefits Also Vary From State To State
The benefits may include medical expenses, wage loss, and even death benefits. Certain injuries or damages may be compensated differently, depending on the applicable state law. New York City, for instance, schedule loss of use awards vary depending on the level of impairment or disability. This settlement chart guide outlines that maximum number of weeks of compensation an employee will receive based on the injured body part.
- Employees Lose The Right To Sue The Employer
Receiving the benefits covered by the workers’ compensation law means the employee injured gives up the right to sue an employer. An employee will only have the right to sue third parties that helped cause the injury.
- Employers Pay For Workers’ Compensation
Employers must pay for workers’ compensation insurance, and the cost is determined according to the class code of an employee. An employer should not ask an employee to make contributions for the cost of the compensation. The employer’s liability will be determined based on the type of company and the employee’s role.
- Employers Should Let Employees Know About Workers’ Compensation
Employers are required to inform their employees about workers’ compensation. There should be a notice on company bulletins where employees can easily see it. The notice should contain vital information about the coverage details and rights of the employees. Moreover, it should also include detailed instructions when an incident does happen in the workplace.
- Employers Who Fail To Comply The Workers’ Compensation Law May Face Sanctions And Penalties
Employers who fail to provide workers’ compensation may receive penalties from the state and incur additional costs for the business. Without workers’ compensation in place for the employees, an employer may have to spend more to provide the benefits that the employee rightfully deserves. These additional costs could be detrimental to a startup or small business.
- Only Employees Can Avail Workers’ Compensation
Only official employees can avail themselves of the workers’ compensation benefits. Independent contractors aren’t included. Some states do not cover undocumented workers, but some include a clause for ‘illegal’ workers. Moreover, some states may also not provide protection for specific workers such as housekeepers, nannies, babysitters, agricultural workers, and seasonal workers under workers’ compensation laws.
If an accident happens and causes a severe injury, an employee must know what to do to be eligible for workers’ compensation. The employees involved must inform their employer right away of the incident. The legal requirement for such notice varies for every state, so it is essential to know these technicalities.
In addition to notice, an employee should submit a written report. It should contain the necessary personal details such as:
- The employee’s name, current home address, and contact details
- The details of the incident including the nature, cause, place, and time of injury
The report should consist of a portion where both the employer and the employee signatory confirm the reported incident. Lastly, it’s essential to keep all receipts and records of all expenses accrued while the injury is getting treated.
- Employers Have The Right To Dispute
Employers have the right to dispute any claims that an employee raises. Often, workers’ compensation claims go through a thorough process in order to also protect the employer. Once an employer submits a dispute, the state will investigate the claim and decide whether to honor a claim or not.
- Workers’ Compensation Claims Can Be A Legal Matter
Claims for workers’ compensation can be a legal matter. In certain cases, you may need to consult legal assistance and contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help you out.
Workers’ compensation laws protect both employers and employees. The former can protect their business from lawsuits, while the latter can receive financial benefits and proper medical care if they get injured at work.