No matter how careful, prepared, or cautious one is, accidents happen. Some are easily rectified with no harm done. But, some can cause serious property damage, bodily injury, and even death. Circumstances involving an accident can become very complicated especially if the mishap is work-related. Regardless of cause, neglect, or fault, medical bills and property repair or replacement quickly add up and need to be paid.
Before the turn of the twentieth century, employees were only able to pursue employers for retribution by going to court with civil and tort cases. Therefore, workman's compensation, now known as workers compensation, was created to provide employees with medical benefits and wage replacement for damages suffered from work-related accidents in exchange for the employee's relinquishment of the right to sue the employer.
Workers compensation insurance is a mandatory requirement for most United States employers. A unique exception is the state of Texas, where insurance protecting employees is required, but it does not have to be workers compensation per se. Texas companies have the ability to opt out of workers compensation and choose commercial insurers who provide similar benefits. These opt-out employers are called non-subscribers. However, it is the right of each individual working in the United States to be provided with medical care, and many times compensation for missed wages and payments related to continuing disability, if an injury is sustained on the job. So, non-subscribers must meet mandatory standards in providing care if they choose to opt out of workers compensation.
Though federally mandated, administration of workers comp is by each state which has its own provisions regarding details such as how the insurance is purchased, how benefit claims are paid, and whether workers have rights to pursue other forms of compensation other than medical expenses and wage retribution. Most workers' compensation plans are offered by private insurers. Some states have insurance funds set up by the government in the event that an employer illegally does not hold insurance for employee work-related accidents.
Depending on the jurisdiction, workers and their families may be eligible to receive compensation for things such as the loss of future wages, additional health insurance coverage and death benefits for dependents of a worker who lost his or her life in a work-related accident. Rarely, punitive damages for employer negligence or claims for pain and suffering damages fall under the workers comp umbrella as employer negligence is not an issue when claims are filed for injured workers.
Many injured workers feel the need to hire an attorney specializing in workers compensation law. The determination of benefits is based on statutory law which places limits on compensation due to the extent of the injury and what parts of the body sustained harm. Initially, an injury may appear temporary and the employer's insurance company has paid benefits accordingly. However, a later medical condition may arise as a result of the work-related accident. This may be difficult to prove by an employee and the employer may not pursue the claim on behalf of the employee. This is where an attorney who deals in workers' comp law can assist the employee in getting a fair assessment.
It is imperative for employees to report any type of injury that happens regarding any work-related activity. Whether injury does not seem evident at the time, a later condition may flare up as a result. Just because it is a federal law for employers to provide coverage, this does not mean that the employer has the employee's best interest heart. Employees wish to believe this would be the case, but it is not always so.
Workers compensation was instilled to protect both employee and employer. However, both parties need to be diligent in making sure the case is handled fairly, properly, and in accordance with the law.