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Top 10 Things To Know About Worker’s Compensation Law

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Worker’s compensation law exists in some form in all 50 states throughout the United States. The rules provide an alternative to the tort law system for personal injuries that occur on the job. If you are injured at work, you need to understand your rights within workers comp. Read on to find out the top 10 things to know about worker’s compensation law.

  1. Worker’s compensation law differs on a state-by-state basis. This means that the rules that govern how work injuries are handled are different depending on where you live. You will need to be familiar with the specific laws in your area and consult an attorney who handles cases within your jurisdiction should problems arise.
  2. Almost all employers are required to purchase worker’s comp insurance for every employee. This means that – with a few limited exceptions (such as if you are working in an agricultural field or working for someone who has only one employee in certain states) – you are covered by your employer’s workers comp policy.
  3. Worker’s compensation is an alternative to a tort law system. If you make a claim for worker comp insurance, you are not legally permitted to also sue your employer in court for your injury.
  4. Worker’s compensation is a no fault system. This means that your employer does not have to be negligent in injuring you and does not need to have done anything wrong. If the injury arose from work, then your employer’s carrier may have to pay even if they acted perfectly reasonably and carefully.
  5. You don’t have to be “at work” to be injured at work. Under worker’s comp, you don’t have to be physically in your office or at a job site in order to be considered working. You simply have to be engaged in your normal job duties or assignments. This means if your boss sends you to pick up his dry cleaning and you get shot in a hold-up at the dry cleaners, that can constitute a work injury. Likewise, if you are required to attend a company retreat where you fall out of a tree and are injured, this too can be a work injury.
  6. Expressly violating company policy can bar recovery. If you are drunk at work, on drugs, or do something that is directly prohibited by company policy or in the company handbook, you may be precluded from recovery.
  7. Filing in a timely manner is often required to recover. This means you need to let your employer know of the injury right away – as soon as is practical. If you wait for two long (more than 30 days in some areas, more than a year or two in others), then you may lose your right to make a claim with worker’s compensation insurance.
  8. Injuries can include illnesses caused by chemical exposure. If you are exposed to asbestos, for example, you may be able to file a worker’s compensation claim even if your asbestos-related problems did not begin for years after you stopped working for the company. For such cases, the statute of limitations (the time you have to make your claim) begins to run as soon as you know about the work-related illness.
  9. You may have to see an approved doctor. Depending on state rules, you may have to see a doctor chosen by your employer or you may get to pick one from a list of doctors in a workers comp network. The doctor must be reasonably competent and you generally must be permitted to request a change at least once if you don’t like the doctor.
  10. You can recover lost wages, and other monetary damages from worker’s comp. The amount of money you will recover depends on a number of factors such as how much you made and what the injury was. Many states have lists of injuries – called schedules – that stipulate how much you get for each type of injury, such as losing an eye or a finger or becoming disabled.
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