If you were injured at your place of employment, workers compensation is an area of law you may want to become familiar with. Workers compensation, also known as workers comp, involves insurance for employees who are injured while on the job. Most employers are required to have workers comp insurance. Some exceptions include businesses with less than five employees. Injuries covered under workers comp insurance can range from slip and falls, to asbestos exposure diseases, to carpal tunnel, depending on the profession.
Workers comp, however, is different from many other areas of law, in that the general goal of workers comp is to settle claims for workplace injuries without going to court. Once an injured employee has filed a claim with his or her employer, the next step usually involves the workers comp insurance carrier. The workers comp insurance carrier will provide for medical care and wage reimbursement for time missed due to the work related injury. However, if you agree to be compensated for your injury under the workers comp plan, then this limits the remedies you can seek outside of the workers comp system. This compromise is known as the “compensation bargain.” Basically, accepting a workers compensation settlement is like an agreement not to sue your employer in court for your injuries.
It is important to remember that workers compensation laws vary by state. Each state has its own Workers Compensation Act which regulates that states workers comp system. There are currently 55 different workers comp programs to cover employee injuries throughout the United States. As such, the exact procedures, benefits, filing guidelines, and court related options will vary according to state.
The types of workers comp cases that are generally found within a state’s court system include claims where the employer refuses to accept liability for the employee’s injury. These cases can usually be found in a court of general jurisdiction. Depending on the laws of the state, once an employer has denied liability, the case could become a civil case involving negligence. There are three states which have a specialized division for workers comp claims within the trial court system. These courts are called the Worker’s Compensation Courts and they exist only in Rhode Island, Nebraska, and Montana. The purpose of these courts is to handle disputes arising out of the workers compensation benefits.
One thing that many legal professionals acknowledge is that workers compensation law can be very complicated, so, if you are or may become involved in a workers comp claim, you should arm yourself with as much information as possible. Reviewing a states Workers Compensation Act, or court files (which are public records) could be very useful in understanding your rights, whether or not you choose to seek the help of an attorney. To find contact information for the Workers Compensation Courts or access other resources regarding workers compensation, visit Courtreference.com