In most occupations, if you have been injured while on the job you have the right to receive compensation. Workers’ compensation laws exist to help take the pressure off of the injured employee and to cover the cost of their work-related injuries. Recently gaining attention as one of the more riskier occupations in the U.S. for chances of obtaining an injury while on the job – is the construction industry. According to data provided by the United States Department of Labor, the construction industry has the second highest number of occupational injuries – right behind transportation and moving occupations. In total, there was a reported 4,821 fatal occupational injuries in 2014, about a 5% increase from the prior year.
Among the construction industry for most dangerous occupations are as follows: logging workers, fishing workers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, roofers, steel workers, truck drivers, and electrical workers. These are all jobs that require heavy machinery, working at dangerous heights or below ground, using dangerous tools and machinery, working long hours, and much more.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Though the benefits of filing a workers’ compensation claim vary across the U.S., they generally have a few common grounds in every state. According to Alex Omrani, a Queens personal injury lawyer, workers’ compensation claims have a “no fault” system, meaning the injured does not need to prove that negligence from another party or entity was the cause of their injury. They must only prove that (1) they suffered an injury and (2) that the injury occurred at their place of work/while performing job related activities.
The injuries that are covered under workers’ compensation claims can range from slip and fall accidents – to injuries that have slowly progressed over time such as stress induced injuries or chemical exposure. The claim will typically cover the costs that have accrued from hospital and medical expenses, disability and rehabilitation payments, and lost wages from missing work.
Workers’ compensation claims may often not cover the following injuries:
- Intoxication or drug induced injuries
- Self-Inflicted Injury
- Injuries resulting from a fight started by the employee
- Felony-related Injuries
- Injuries claimed after an employee is terminated
The workers’ compensation system requires employers to meet several obligations. For starters, it is required for all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay the benefits for a possible injury claim. If the company fails to have the coverage – the injured employee may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the business.
Employers must also make employees aware of their legal rights. The following information must be made available in the office/workplace regarding employee rights:
- The name and information of the company’s workers’ compensation carrier must be displayed.
- It must be stated that the injured employee(s) have rights to receive medical treatment and to select care providers.
- The employees must be given the details regarding the benefits of workers’ compensation.
If an employee does suffer an injury while on the job, the employer must provide a workers’ compensation claim form within 24 hours after receiving notice of the injury.
It is important to note that when you file a claim, you are protected against any vengeance from the employer. If a workers’ compensation claim is filed with a company, it is illegal for the employer to take any negative actions against the employee. The following scenarios would constitute as employer retaliation, but are not limited to:
- Denying claim or preventing/stalling the employee from filing for compensation
- Demoting or terminating the employee after filing the claim
- Harassing the employee or creating a hostile environment
- Docking the employee’s pay or cutting back on their working hours
It is important to be prepared, as things do not always go as planned and can sometimes grow complicated. As the injured employee, remember to keep all documentation of the process – medical records, treatment, etc. If your injury does not prevent you from working and does not create a permanent disability, the extent of your compensation will cover your medical bills. If you are unable to work for an allotted amount of time, your compensation will cover your wage loss. A specialized workers’ compensation attorney might be able to negotiate a higher settlement number but before you receive any compensation, a judge will review your case to assure fair settlement.