Workers’ compensation is a system which is designed to protect employers from lawsuits brought by their employees in exchange for providing limited compensation for medical expenses and lost wages to workers injured on the job, regardless of fault. Your employer, usually through their workers’ compensation insurance company, is required to pay for all the medical treatment you need due to your work related injuries, but your employer chooses your doctors (except for very limited exceptions). Compensation for all the time you miss from work due to your work related injuries is payable at 2/3 of your pre-injury average weekly wage. Workers’ compensation benefits are not taxable.
Workers’ compensation benefits are due for any injured employee who suffers an accident which arises out of and occurs in the course of employment. The definition of accident may include sicknesses related to work and injuries which occur over time.
Report your injury as soon as possible. Within 7 days of the accident or within 7 days of the date you realize you are injured or sick. Failure to report your injuries within 30 days may bar your claim. Your employer is required to prepare a notice of injury and provide you with a copy after you have read and signed it. Formal claims for benefits must be brought within 2 years of the date of your accident, or within one year of your last receipt of compensation or authorized medical treatment.
If you are injured on the job the workers’ compensation laws protect you against retaliation by your employer, but if you miss time the law does not require an employer to keep your position open for you until you are able to return to work.
Your employer may be responsible for the cost of your injuries for the rest of your life. A specially designated Judge of Compensation Claims may resolve disputes that arise in your case, and it normally takes several months to bring a claim to trial. Many workers’ compensation claims settle, but you do not have to settle your claim. All workers’ compensation settlements must be voluntary. The Judge of Compensation Claims cannot award you a lump sum for future benefits, and the workers’ compensation laws do not provide compensation for pain & suffering or other ancillary damages.