Workers’ Compensation 101

What to Do If You Are Hurt at Work

Workers’ Compensation 101
September 30, 2015

Workers’ Compensation is a program designed to compensate workers that are injured because of job-related activities or the job environment. The compensation covers several areas of expense.

  • Medical Treatment – This includes emergency care and follow-up treatment, as well as any required rehabilitation and corresponding transportation costs.

  • Lost Wages – Compensation for your lost working time is usually reimbursed at two-thirds of the average weekly earnings for up to two years.
  • Further Compensation – Situations such as a permanent impairment, retraining costs (if you can no longer perform your current job), or death benefits in case of fatality will increase the compensation to you (or in the last case, to your dependents).

Workers’ compensation laws vary by state, so the details on receiving compensation vary. Your state workers’ compensation office or similar organization can supply you with the correct laws and procedures for your state. In general, you will need to take the following steps.

  • Notify Your Employer – The first step is to notify your employer as soon as possible. Deadlines vary by state, but you usually have at least thirty days from the date of injury to notify your employer. The notification should be in writing and contain all relevant details about the cause of the injury.

Even if you have extra time, it is wise to report the injury immediately. If you decide that the injury is not so bad and go home only to find swelling or stiffness the next day, it may be hard for you to prove that the claim is work-related.

Obviously, if your injury requires medical attention, you must take care of that first.

  • Seek An Attorney – You may not need an attorney for simple workers’ compensation cases, but it is generally useful to consult with one. They will be familiar with the laws in your state, and most provide a free initial consultation.
  • File a Claim – Generally, you will need to fill out claims paperwork with your employer, who will then forward the paperwork to the insurance company for processing. Depending on your state, you may also have to file separate paperwork with the workers' compensation office.

The claim may require an independent medical exam to verify the injury, typically from a doctor chosen by the employer. In some states and in certain circumstances, you may have the right to have your own doctor perform the examination. Be prepared to ask questions if you do not understand the purpose of any part of the examination.

Assuming the claim goes smoothly, you should receive any benefits for lost wages after a short waiting period (usually one week). Compensation for medical expenses should also be dealt with at this time.

If there are any issues with your claim or your benefits are denied, you may need to follow up with an attorney and/or your state workers’ compensation office to resolve the dispute. Your options depend on the facts of your case and the applicable state laws.

There are exceptions by state, but the workers’ compensation laws cover most full-time and part-time employees. Examples of those exempted are some commission-based employees such as real-estate agents, and those covered under other systems (such as government employees).

We hope that you never need to know the mechanics of a workers’ compensation claim – but if you do, it is important to know and follow the procedures in your state. Contact your state workers’ compensation office or seek legal advice if you are unsure of what to do. Your road to recovery is too important to just wing it.

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Erin | 09.30.15 @ 16:01
This is great information. I always wondered what the steps were, so it's nice to have it laid out so clearly.
Nancy | 09.30.15 @ 16:03
Good info to keep handy. Hopefully, we'll never need it.
Sarah | 09.30.15 @ 16:05
Thanks to my dad going through this, I'm already quite versed on workers comp... great article
Sara | 09.30.15 @ 16:05
Great information. Never really thought about what works comp really meant.
Kathryn | 09.30.15 @ 16:06
Sadly my dad was fired from a job after being there for nearly 6 years after a knee surgery.. They tried every attorney in the city we lived in with no luck of getting any justice. :/
Crystal | 09.30.15 @ 16:07
My mother was hurt on the job and placed on permanent disability years ago. If Workers Comp had not been available, I don't know what we would have done. Great info. Important program.
Angie | 09.30.15 @ 16:10
I know that it is a wonderful benefit in place if one is injured and experiences the expenses that come with this happening, but does it place a "strike" against someone when they've left a company and are applying to another? I've seen it asked when applying if the applicant has ever filed a worker's comp claim...
Britt | 09.30.15 @ 16:12
Lots of good info here. My dad got workers comp when he got hurt at work way back when
Steffanie | 09.30.15 @ 16:12
Some really good info here , in case it is ever needed.
Kailie | 09.30.15 @ 16:14
Worker's Comp is one of those things that is a serious blessing to have just in case.
Kyle | 09.30.15 @ 16:17
Great information/article. I know a few people who have had to go through the workers comp process because they got hurt at work.
Bobbie | 09.30.15 @ 16:19
So glad to have not have any on the job injuries when I was working. Friends have told me it's a nightmare to navigate through the process.
Daniel | 09.30.15 @ 16:24
One of those things you hope you never need to use but great information if you ever do
Alec | 09.30.15 @ 16:26
I've never known anyone who needed workers comp but it's still a good idea to know details and how to go about filing for it if you're part of the workforce just in case.
Jackie | 09.30.15 @ 16:27
I was injured on the job many years ago and was covered by workers' compensation. I had no problem with the claim or getting doctor and medical bills covered.
Kamie | 09.30.15 @ 16:27
This article makes it seem so easy, maybe companies should read this also
Chrisitna | 09.30.15 @ 16:28
Found this out firsthand when my husband fell off a ladder at work last year. Luckily, his employer made things relatively easy!
Tina | 09.30.15 @ 16:28
Great list, thanks!
Ron | 09.30.15 @ 16:31
The best infornation here is to seek an attorney and defend yourself from your employer.
Zanna | 09.30.15 @ 16:33
I hope I never need it, but this is very useful information to have. Thanks!
Jonathan | 09.30.15 @ 16:34
Very informative, it's good to know what you're protected by and what your rights are in these situations.
Chelsey | 09.30.15 @ 16:42
One thing I hope me or my husband never need, but great info none the less
Meredith L | 09.30.15 @ 16:43
I have been lucky enough to never use Worker's Comp. Of course there will always be people who try to work the system and get something for nothing...or something from an event that didn't happen at work. I cannot deny how important this is for people who genuinely need it though. Great article. Very good info.
steven | 09.30.15 @ 16:56
Good information to know. Hopefully I will never need to use it.
Carla | 09.30.15 @ 17:32
I would love to have had this information available to me years ago when I had an on the job injury. My employer was of no help in telling me the steps I needed to take.
Kamie | 09.30.15 @ 17:44
This is great information for anyone who may have hurt themselves on their job site, but also something companies should read. There is no reason things have to be drawn out.
Wanda Langley | 09.30.15 @ 17:46
I know a few people whom have had to use this and it came in handy taking care of their family until they could get back to work. Great info.
Jill | 09.30.15 @ 17:46
Great info!
Elaine | 09.30.15 @ 17:49
I too have some experience with this because of my father. Great info!
gracie | 09.30.15 @ 17:52
It's good to be aware of what your rights are as a worker if you are hurt in the work place. Injuries can be very expensive to heal from and hinder job performance.
Jo Ann | 09.30.15 @ 18:04
Workers compensation isn't that easy to collect on even when you do follow the rules. They do everything possible to keep a person from collecting, by delaying payments and late benefit payments. You really have to keep on them to collect.
Shannon | 09.30.15 @ 18:07
This is great information to have, it can be confusing and having this knowledge will help if the time comes!
Selena | 09.30.15 @ 18:39
Hope to never need this information.
Clarissa | 09.30.15 @ 19:13
This is very helpful information. There are site safety procedures in place, but it's good to have these laid out in case I every need to refer to them.
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