Career Advice

A Comprehensive Guide for Injured Workers: What Are Their Rights?

Injuries in the workplace are a common occurrence. More so in occupations where physical labor and heavy machinery are employed. Employers are bound by the law to provide a safe place to work. However, even if adequate measures are put in place, slip-ups on part of an employee or the employer, or sometimes just plain rotten luck can lead to injuries.

While workplace injuries are generally minor in nature and may result only in small cuts and scrapes, the more serious injuries could cause long term physical or mental impairment and may affect the worker’s ability to continue in his line of profession. As a worker, knowing the benefits and provisions that you are entitled to is important. This will help ensure that you are treated fairly if you get injured in your workplace.

Here are your rights and processes that you need to be familiar with.

Notify Your Employer

If you are ever injured on your job, the first and foremost thing that you must do is notify your employer. As a worker, you are protected by Workers’ Compensation Laws, which in brief, require the employer to compensate workers in the case of both, a one-off event at work and repeated exposures. While these laws vary from one region to another and one country to another, most of them require you to report to your employer within a certain time period of the event of an injury. For example, in the State of California, if the employer is not notified about the injury within 30 days, you could lose your workers’ compensation benefits.

Injuries in the workplace are a common occurrence. More so in occupations where physical labor and heavy machinery are employed. Employers are bound by the law to provide a safe place to work.Click To Tweet

So, in the event of an injury, you should notify your employer as soon as possible, preferably in writing. On being notified, the employer is bound to provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form within a fixed deadline.

Disability Benefits

If you reside in North Carolina and are injured during work, irrespective of the cause, you are eligible to receive disability benefits. Understanding the disability benefits that you are eligible for can get a little confusing owing to the large number of categories, this useful guide provides a detailed explanation of the types of disabilities and the corresponding benefits. In general, there are two types of disability allowances.

Temporary Disability

If you are unable to work during your recovery period, you are eligible for disability benefits. However, the eligibility is subject to the employer not being able to provide you with an alternate role during your recovery. These benefits are called temporary disability benefits and could either be total disability payments or partial disability payments. You don’t have to pay income taxes or retirement fund contributions on these payments.

Permanent Disability

If your injury leads to a form of permanent disability that limits your capacity to work, you can be eligible for permanent disability benefits. The permanent disability payment depends on your permanent and stationary report, which is a medical report that is generated at a stage where your medical condition is neither improving nor getting worse. It is important for you to keep a copy of the report with you as it affects your future benefits.

Provision of Medical Care

If you are injured on your job, your medical care must be funded by your employer, irrespective of whether you miss time from work or not. In addition, your employer is also responsible for providing you with emergency medical support without you having claimed workers’ compensation. Generally, depending on the region, your employer can select the doctor responsible for your medical care. However, in some cases, it is possible for you to predesignate your personal physician. This can be done by filling out a form. But to do so, you must have health care coverage that is not related to your workplace on the date of your injury. The medical benefits that are part of the workers’ compensation cover the worker irrespective of who was at fault and irrespective of his type of contract with the employer.

It is important to note that medical care must be financed by the employer and not through your personal insurance.

Employment Post Injury

Post-injury, your work responsibilities are dependent on your recovery. Your doctor along with your employer can make certain changes to your daily responsibilities that depend on your recovery and physical condition.

When you return to work after an injury, depending on your recovery and medical condition, you could either take on your regular responsibilities or based on your doctor’s suggestions, modified or alternate work. In this case, you have to be paid at least 85% of the compensation that you were paid in the event of your injury. If your employer is unable to provide suitable alternate or modified work within a certain duration, you might be eligible for supplemental job displacement benefits (SJDB). In case your employer does not adhere to the changes recommended by your doctor, or you feel that certain aspects of your responsibilities are not in line with your doctor’s recommendation, you should discuss the same with the employer. It is your right to object and your employer cannot force you into taking responsibilities and performing tasks that your doctor does not agree with.

Seeking Professional Help

Hiring a professional attorney while contesting for worker’s compensation is advisable, especially one who specializes in workers’ compensation law. Given a large number of legal statutes, it is easy to get confused and to lose track of the benefits you are entitled to. More often than not, due to lack of awareness, workers end up receiving a fraction of the benefits that they are entitled to.

In many states, the maximum fee of the attorney in case of a workers’ compensation dispute is capped at a value between 15 to 25 percent of the settlement value. Seeking professional help can ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. Even though you will have to cover the fee of the attorney, you will most likely still end up with a better deal.

If you are injured on-the-job, you are covered by well-established laws and are entitled to the benefits, irrespective of who is responsible. Even if the injury is caused by the negligence of a third party, you can still avail the benefits through third-party claims. However, it is very important that you are well informed and aware of your rights and the responsibilities of your employer. Very often employers tend to protect their interests, which may not be aligned with yours. Being aware of your rights can help you receive the compensation that you deserve.

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