How to Receive Workers' Compensation After Suffering a Work Injury
If you’ve been injured while at work, you need to know what steps to take to receive workers’ compensation. Although every state has some form of workers’ compensation, specific requirements, exceptions, and options differ from one state to another.
For example, in Alabama, businesses with five or more employees are required to carry coverage; in Georgia, the same applies to businesses with three or more employees, while in California, even businesses with a single employee must provide workers’ compensation. The information presented below applies to most states, but it’s important to check the laws of your state before proceeding.
That said, here are the answers to five common questions about workers’ compensation.
1. Are There Specific Steps to Take If You’re Injured While at Work?
If you suffer a job-related injury, you need to take the following actions:
Tell your supervisor immediately after the injury occurs
Ask to see a doctor
Complete the claim form for workers’ compensation
Some workers delay reporting their injury, but this can mean a delay in receiving benefits while you’re out of work and not making a salary.
2. Can Injured Workers Use Their Own Doctors?
The laws that dictate whether you must use a company doctor vary from one state to another. In some states, for example, workers are required to use a company doctor for the first month, after which they can use their own. Again, be sure to check the laws that apply in your state.
3. What Does Workers’ Compensation Pay?
Under workers’ compensation, the insurance company must pay for:
Your medical treatment
- This is defined as “all treatment reasonably required to cure or alleviate the effects of the injury.”
- You're eligible to receive compensation for lost wages; in most states, this is 2/3 of your regular wages. Some states also include in your compensation what employers would normally have contributed to your employee benefits. In Washington, for example, employers who are not paying for your health insurance must add that money to your disability payment.
A permanent disability settlement
- This applies to persons whose injuries cause permanent impairment. How much you receive depends on the severity of your disability.
- If your disability makes it impossible for you to return to your previous job, this pays for retraining for another job.
4. Can Your Employer Fire You If You’re on Workers’ Compensation?
Generally speaking, your employer cannot fire you if you are disabled and receiving workers’ compensation, but there are exceptions to this rule. If it becomes clear through medical evidence that it will be impossible for you to return to your job, your employer can replace you.
Employers can also argue that replacing you before you’re able to return to work is a “business necessity.”
5. If You Can’t Return to Your Old Job, Are Employers Required to Offer You a Different Job?
In most states, employers must offer you an alternative job if you can’t return to the job you were doing before you were injured. That could include a reduction in pay, consistent with the salary for your new job. If your employer offers you a different job and you refuse, he might not be required to provide further training assistance or help you with job placement services.
If no other job is available at the company where you worked, your employer might need to provide you with vocational rehabilitation benefits, as described above.
Get the Benefits You Deserve With a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in San Diego
The laws that govern workers’ compensation can be difficult to understand and vary widely from one state to another. In some cases, it might be advisable to hire a competent workers’ compensation attorney to help you get the answers — and the benefits — you deserve.
At Bates Law in San Diego, we provide vigorous representation to injured persons and are committed to a swift resolution of your case and fair compensation for your injury.
To schedule a free consultation, contact us today at (619) 222-0900.