General Information about Workers' Compensation
"Workers' compensation" refers to both the benefits that employees injured on the job are entitled to and the method for obtaining those benefits. Workers' compensation laws are set by each state and these laws can vary from state to state. Additionally, the federal government has workers' compensation laws for federal government employees and employees in certain types of jobs.
In most states, the laws require every business to have some type of workers' compensation insurance to cover employee's injuries on the job. When an employee is injured, that employee files a workers' compensation claim. Filing this claim is similar to filing a claim with an insurance company. The employee isn't filing a lawsuit against their employer. Instead, he or she is filing a request for benefits. If you have been injured at your job, a lawyer experienced in workers' compensation claims can help you understand your claim and assist you in obtaining the maximum benefits possible.
How Do Workers' Compensation Laws Operate?
Workers' compensation laws are designed to allow employees who are injured at work to obtain a fixed amount of compensation, without having to sue their employer. Workers' compensation laws create an important "safety net" for employees who are injured at work or injured because of their job.
Generally, workers' compensation laws also provide some protection to employers and co-workers. These laws may limit the amount of money that employees can obtain from their employers. Injured employees may also be barred from suing their co-workers. In this way, the workers' compensation system is a "no-fault" system, where it doesn't matter whose fault the injury was. Negligence, whether of the employee, the employer, or a co-worker is not an issue. The injured employee is simply compensated for his or her work-related injuries.
Workers' compensation is an "exclusive remedy" with respect to work-related injuries. The term "exclusive remedy" means that unless an employee can show that there was another a third party responsible for his or her injury, workers' compensation is the only benefit or monetary award that an employee can obtain.
A third party may be another company or manufacturer.
Employees are often injured by machinery or products that they use at work. Many employees successfully sue the manufacturers of these machines or products for compensation for their injuries. A lawsuit against a third party generally takes place in civil court, as opposed to workers' compensation claims, which are generally handled by a state or federal agency. Employers generally aren't involved in these lawsuits, but most states do have a method that allows an employer to recover their workers' compensation payments from the compensation that an employee obtains from a third-party lawsuit. In some states, the employer and the insurance company that provides the workers' compensation insurance join in the lawsuit against the third party. This joinder allows the employer and the insurance company to protect their right to be compensated for benefits that they have already paid to the injured employee. In other states, the employer is given a lien against any compensation that the employee may obtain. The employer and the insurance company must wait until the employee actually receives their compensation award, then the employee must pay back any workers' compensation benefits already received. An experienced workers' compensation lawyer will be able to advise you on the laws of your state if you think that a third party may be responsible for your on-the-job injury.
Who Is Covered by Workers' Compensation Laws?
Workers compensation coverage varies from state to state. In some states, employees who work in certain fields may be exempt from their state's workers compensation system. These employees may include agricultural workers, domestic workers and independent contractors. If you are unsure if you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits, you should contact a lawyer in your area who is experienced in workers' compensation cases.
Remember that even if you aren't entitled to workers' compensation benefits, you may be able to sue your employer or a third party for compensation for your injuries.
What Is the Difference Between Workers' Compensation Benefit Claims and Civil Lawsuits?
Workers' compensation is a substitute for a lawsuit against your employer. When you bring a workers' compensation claim, the claim is controlled by the workers' compensation system and not the courts.
Because you are bringing a claim under the workers' compensation system, you are entitled to benefits, no matter if your accident was your fault or your employer's fault. Before the workers' compensation system was created, employees had to go to court to receive compensation for their work-related injuries. However, the current workers' compensation system allows most employees to receive benefits. In addition, this system shields employers from lawsuits brought by employees.
Bear in mind that even if you file a claim in the workers' compensation system you make still be able to file a lawsuit in the court system as well. You may be able to bring a lawsuit as well, but only if your injury was caused by someone other than your employer or by a faulty product or defective piece of equipment. An experienced workers' compensation lawyer will be able to help get the compensation to which you are entitled, whether it is through the workers' compensation system or through the court system.