Worker\’s compensation is one of those benefits that workers typically know nothing about until they actually need it. You know that if you get hurt at work, then you can get worker\’s compensation for your injuries. However, you probably aren\’t familiar on many of the specifics which that does – or does not – cover. Yet if you have been hurt at work, it is important to be clear on what you will receive from a worker\’s compensation claim.
What Worker\’s Compensation Benefits Cover
All employers, save for some very small exceptions, are required to have worker\’s compensation insurance. This barrier of protection assures that injured workers are entitled to certain compensation for workplace injuries while also protecting businesses from what could be bankrupting lawsuits. In this regard, the worker\’s compensation insurance will cover:
- Medical Expenses – Workplace injuries should always, first and foremost, be treated. This may mean an expensive ambulance ride and an expensive emergency room visit. Long-term this could mean dozens more doctor visits and surgeries. All of these medical visits that pertain to the healing and treatment of the injury will be covered under worker\’s compensation as long as they are reasonable, necessary, and related to the work injury.
- Lost Wages – Healing from an injury means that you may miss some work. For those missed hours of work, worker\’s compensation requires that you are compensated for those lost wages as long as they are due to your injury and your doctor has either taken you off work or imposed restrictions. There are limits on the amount you can receive and for how long. It can be when you are off work or when you are earning less than you did at the time you were injured due to the injury. A worker’s compensation lawyer can give you the details.
- Ongoing Rehabilitation – For some injuries, a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC) is assigned. A consultation can determine if you are eligible. The QRC is licensed by the State and is required to be “neutral.” The QRC’s job can include being a liaison helping the employer, insurer and employee to communicate. The QRC can also help monitor and arrange medical care as well as help get the injured worker back to work in an appropriate job.
- Disability – Some workplace injuries will result a permanent disability. If your injury is capable of being rated by a doctor under the system adopted by the State, you may receive a payment based upon a percentage of whole body impairment.
- Vocational Rehabilitation – If an injury is bad enough, you may not be able to return to your previous position. As such, worker\’s compensation may pay for you to receive assistance in finding a new job or help you get vocational training for a new job.
- Permanent total disability – If you are unable to return to any kind of work, worker’s compensation may under some circumstances have to pay you wage loss up to retirement age.
What Worker\’s Compensation Doesn\’t Cover
If you get hurt at work, you expect worker\’s compensation to cover those injuries. Unfortunately, if it was just that simple to file a claim and get it approved, worker\’s compensation attorneys wouldn\’t exist. You will find that claims adjusters may try to fight back against your claims. Some of the reasons injuries may not be covered are these:
- Injuries That Didn\’t Happen at Work – Worker\’s compensation only covers injuries that happen at work or are work-related. It seems like a simple thing, but it can be quite complex. For example, if you were hurt driving between job sites, this may or may not be covered. If you were hurt at work, but clocked out, then it may or may not be covered. The circumstances must be looked at in each case, and a worker’s compensation lawyer knows what facts matter.
- Injuries Caused By Non-Work Activities – One of the biggest arguments a claims adjuster will make when it comes to repetitive injuries is that your non-work, every day activities caused the injury rather than your job. However, as long as it can be proved that your job substantially contributed to the injury, they may be forced to cover it.
- Independent Contractors, Part-Time Employees, Seasonal Workers – Not all employees are afforded the right to worker\’s compensation. If you are a full-time employee that is not classified as an independent contractor, you will likely be fine. Part-time and seasonal workers who are not independent contractors generally ARE covered.
- Under the Influence Injuries – If your injury happened while you had alcohol or drugs in your system, the insurer may not have to cover it. However, in order for the insurer to win this argument, they must show that the alcohol or drugs were a big part of the reason you were injured.
- \”Old\” Injuries – What can seriously hurt a lot of injured workers is that they miss certain deadlines. When injured at work, you need to notify your employer right away. This can be more flexible with repetitive injuries like carpal tunnel. However, you also need to keep in mind that you also have a three-year statute of limitations in Minnesota (starting when a First Report is filed by your employer with the work comp insurance company) to actually file your worker\’s compensation claim. If the employer doesn’t file the First Report, you can have up to six years from your date of injury. However, you should not count on longer than three years from when you got hurt. If you put it off and miss this deadline, they will not have to pay you at all.
Worker\’s compensation is an excellent tool to help injured workers, but they don\’t make it easy to get the compensation you need. If you are an injured worker in Southern Minnesota, and need help getting through this process, contact us today. Let Harvey & Carpenter come to your aid and make sure you get all you are entitled to.