If you are injured at work and incur medical bills or even have to be off work or any amount of time per your doctor’s orders, how do you get reimbursed for your expenses, lost wages, etc? Do you need to file a claim against your company to get the money?
Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required by law in most states. The company can either purchase the insurance through a separate insurance company or through a program the company sets up to cover workers’ compensation claims. In most states, employers have to acquire workers’ compensation insurance even if they employ just one person. Some states require between two and five employees.
Workers’ compensation was put into place to protect both the employee and the employer, as a workers compensation lawyer Wytheville, VA trusts knows well. It protects the employee by offering benefits to workers who may be injured or fall ill as a result of their job. These benefits are offered regardless if the injury or illness was the employee’s fault or the fault of the employer. Workers’ compensation insurance protects employers from their employees suing them through a personal injury claim for monetary compensation for pain and suffering.
What if your employer disregards the law and does not have workers’ compensation insurance?
In most states, if you are injured or become ill because of something at your workplace and your employer does not have workers’ comp insurance, you can file a personal injury claim. This claim allows you to seek full compensation for your injuries and you are not subjected to a cap that is set by the workers’ comp law. For example, most workers’ compensation insurance pays partial disability benefits, usually consisting of about two-thirds of the wages that the workers lose, up to a set maximum amount and a prescribed time limit.
What Can You Claim in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If your employer does not have workers’ comp insurance and you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit, you can claim the total amount of your losses, including:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages – these can be claimed if you can prove that your employer’s misconduct was the cause of your injury or illness
Damages for pain and suffering or for punitive damages cannot be collected through workers’ compensation insurance.
A negative to taking your employer to court is that it could take a considerable amount of time to get through the court process and collect any money. Workers’ compensation insurance claims are generally handled within a few weeks. In addition, if you were to pursue a personal injury claim you will have the burden of proving that your employer was at fault for your illness or accident. Conversely, workers’ compensation insurance is a no-fault policy where proof is not necessary.
Are there any other means to recover damages outside of court?
- Check with your state to see if there is a reserve fund for anyone injured on the job while working for an uninsured employer. Using this method may allow you to recover your medical expenses or even a portion of your lost wages.
- There are a few states that have insurance programs for those temporarily disabled. These programs may give you short-term benefits during the time you are not able to work.
Thank you to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into workers compensation.