There are some high risk industries employing millions of Americans across all the 50 states. Workers in these industries usually work under dangerous conditions. While employers have done their best to ensure safety at the workplace, there are still risks that workers face. Workers compensation insurance is meant to protect both workers and their employers whenever there is a work-related injury.
How it Works
Every company in a high-risk industry is required to sign up all their workers. Failure to enroll workers into this insurance scheme can have far reaching legal and financial consequences. When a worker is injured on the clock, they are required to report the injury to their employer within 30 days. In case of an illness related to the job, employees are required to seek medical attention and inform their employer within 30 days. Once the injury or illness has been reported, the employer will file a claim with the state authorities responsible for work comp insurance. These claims are usually handled on a first come first serve basis, but there is a strict timeline that must be adhered to.
Work Comp Benefits
There are many benefits that employees and their employers usually enjoy under the work comp insurance system. For starters, employers can rest easy knowing that they will not face any lawsuits from employees who are covered under work comp insurance. After all, employees usually give up their right to sue their employer. In return, the employees can expect the following work comp benefits:
Injured or ill workers can expect all their medical bills to be paid. However, only essential treatment for injuries or illnesses developed at the workplace are covered. If an employee has a pre-existing condition, bills associated with the treatment of that condition will not be covered. For instance, if an employee has a brain tumor that is discovered during treatment of head injuries, work comp will not cover the cost of removing the tumor.
It is important to note that every employer has preferred medical facilities. To make things easier for you, be sure to visit an employer-approved medical facility to seek treatment.
Wage Replacement Benefits
Some injuries and illnesses may force you to stay out of work for some time. This means that you will not be able to earn any wages. Fortunately, work comp has permanent disability, partial disability and temporary disability benefits. Some states have more wage replacement benefits than others. They are usually paid at the rate of 70% of average weekly pay or two thirds of weekly pay before the injury depending on the state.
Death and Burial Benefits
In case a worker succumbs to their injuries, work comp will pay death benefits to their spouse, parents or children (dependents). There are also burial benefits, so the cost of burying the deceased worker will be covered by the work comp insurance.
As you can see, work comp is incredibly helpful and can give workers peace of mind mind while at work. It is important to note, however, that processing of claims can be delayed. The work comp commission/board may also reject a claim. In some cases, the injured worker may not be accorded all the benefits they are entitled to under workers compensation laws. That is why it is always important for injured workers to hire a work comp lawyer to help them with the claim. Fortunately, there are many of them.
In case the claim is denied, the lawyer will help the injured worker file an appeal. In case of delays, the lawyer will make a follow up to ensure the process is expedited.
Looking for more info? Take a look at this workers comp Q&A.