Every state has workers compensation laws designed to compensate employees for work related injuries. In some states it may be called workman’s compensation or workmen’s compensation, but it is the same thing. While specific workers comp laws and systems vary from state to state, there are general principles applicable to all states. Here are 5 facts the everybody ought to know.
1. Not every employer is required to have workers compensation.
Every state has set a minimum number of employees that an employer has to have before the employer is required to have workers comp. The number may be one employee, but is usually 2 to 4 employees. Therefore, if you work in a very small business, your employer may not be required to have workers compensation.
Also, not every employee is always covered. Most states recognize that businesses sometimes hire “casual” employees and these employees are not covered by workers comp.
2. You do not need to prove that your employer did something wrong or was at fault.
In normal personal injury situations where you are hurt. you must prove that another person caused your injury in some way. However, to make it easier for workers to receive medical treatment and compensation for injuries suffered at work, worker compensation laws exclude proving fault. Whether an employer was is at fault or not doesn’t make a difference. All that an employee has to do is prove that his/her injuries occurred while at work.
3. You must go to the medical provider (doctor, hospital, etc.) to which your employer sends you.
It may seem unfair, but your employer (or its workers compensation insurance carrier) gets to pick the medical provider that you go to for a work related injury. And, if you refuse to go to the medical provider that is chosen by your employer, you may lose your workers compensation claim.
Employers must pay the medical bills of the medical provider to which you were sent by the employer. If you want to go to your own doctor, you will probably have to pay the bill yourself.
4. Most workers compensation lawyers will handle workers comp cases on a contingency fee basis.
Most states will not allow a lawyer to charge a worker/client a flat fee to handle a workers comp case. They require workers compensation lawyers to work on a contingency fee basis which means that the lawyer is paid a percentage of the amount he/she recovers for the worker/client. If the lawyer does not recover any compensation for the worker/client, then the lawyer is not paid.
5. Lawyer fees must be approved by the Workers Compensation Commission or Board.
Every state has a Workers Compensation Commission or Board. A state may call the commission or board a different name, but its purpose is the same – to settle disputes between the employer and employee that relate to an employee’s injury. As part of settling disputes, the commission or board is also required to approve worker compensation lawyers fees. Normally the fee is either one quarter (25%) or one third (33 1/3%) of the compensation awarded to the injured employee.
This is general information only. If you have any questions whatsoever about workers compensation, talk with a lawyer licensed in your state. This article may be republished, but the wording must not be changed and the author links must remain active.