Fortunately, there's a safety net for exactly this kind of situation. It's known as workers' compensation or workers' comp. And while it's there to help people get by in circumstances that are not their fault, it doesn't always work the way it's intended. That can lead to serious problems and sometimes even requires legal intervention, but how and why?
Workers comp is something that every employee at a company is protected by. Provided that the business isn't a small one, with only one or two employees, most larger companies will, by law, offer this protection. Workers' comp is essentially "contingency money" given to an employee to help offset the medical expenses or lost income that can come from recovering from an injury.
In other words, if you've been injured through no fault of your own at work, and the injury requires some recovery, treatment, and even lost time, you'll lose money. As the name implies, workers' compensation provides the money that might be required to manage the medical expenses or make up the shortfall in lost wages from being unable to return to the job while recovering.
However, it's important to note that workers comp is only there for accidents in which the accident victim is not at fault. Getting into a fight with another employee, for example, and sustaining a head injury because the other employee retaliated in self-defense would not be covered by workers comp. Nor would an injury for falling off the roof of a site under construction if the employee was joking, dancing, hopping around, or otherwise engaging in horseplay.
When It Works
In straightforward workplace injury cases, there's little need for a lawyer to intervene. An unforeseen accident for which the employee is not at fault typically goes through without any issues. There's no need for a lawyer in these instances, usually because these criteria have been met:
Suppose the injury is something with a near 100% recovery rate, such as a twisted ankle or a cut that requires some stitching. In that case, there's generally no need to dispute workers comp.
If all that was required was some medical treatment, but there was no extended absence for treatment, then recovery, workers comp usually goes through without issue.
No Preexisting Conditions
Someone who sustains an injury to the lower back, but has no prior medical history of a chronic lower back condition, is likely to have workers comp go smoothly.
Workplace Acknowledges The Accident
Finally, if your workplace has seen, verified, and gone on record themselves as validating the accident and the causes; this makes for the smoothest workers comp experience.
When It Doesn't Work
Unfortunately, there will be situations where even if your claim is legitimate, workers comp won't be issued, or it won't be the total due of compensation you're owed. If this happens to you, it's now time to bring in a lawyer. These are some of the situations that may occur where you're advised not to resolve the problem yourself and bring in professional legal help.
A Partial Or Total Disability
If the injury is severe enough to put new limits on how you can work or is a permanent disability that leaves you unable to work at all, get legal counsel. This is a different scale of injury.
You Are Dismissed After Filing A Claim
In some instances, management will retaliate for a workers comp claim by firing or laying off the applicant. If this happens, you can bring the matter to court.
The Claim Is Denied
Some businesses, even if they know a claim is legal and legitimate, will deny the claim. They may do this for financial or punitive reasons, but it's still illegal.
You're Getting Social Security Disability Benefits
This can get financially complicated. Depending on how workers comp is structured, it may lower the amount of SSD you can receive if not properly filed. Talk to a legal expert to ensure nothing is left on the table.
You're Not Getting Everything
Your employer may agree with your workers' comp claim but then reduce the amount of money you receive. If there's no disagreement about the injury, but there is about amounts owed, get legal help.
If you need help with your workers' comp claim, we can assist you. Contact our workers comp lawyers to find out how you can get the compensation you deserve.