Getting involved in a work accident is one of the most dreaded happenings. The pain inflicted can be quite difficult to handle. You may also lose your ability to earn an income. This can be very problematic. As a result, some form of workmen's compensation comes in handy. You may be awarded cash. Hospital bills may also be taken care of. The burden relieved can help you get back on your feet. The workmen's compensation act determines the manner in which the compensation happens.
Workmen's Compensation Act Explained
Each state has compensation for injured employees. The extent of the compensation depends on the company type. It also depends on what led to the accident. Each state has its own worker's compensation law. Thus, the amounts of benefits available to the injured worker do vary.
Each state maintains its own worker's compensation system. This is primarily handled by insurance firms in most states. There are some states that have state funds. These insure state employees. They also act as a guide for private insurers. There are other states that have state insurance providers. Their duty is to reimburse workers.
In order to ensure that state funds do not crowd out private insurers, the state funds may be designated as the last resort for businesses that are unable to get private insurance. However, private insurers have the option of turning away the worst risks. In contrast, they may decide to write comprehensive insurance packages that have coverage for natural disasters and general liability. California maintains the largest state compensation insurance fund.
The workmen's compensation act maintains that employers have the sole responsibility of paying for insurance. In line with this provision, the employee is not expected to make any contribution towards the cost of compensation. The employer's insurance coverage takes charge of medical care. It also satisfies weekly cash benefits. The Worker's Compensation Board directs how much of this shall be paid. The board is a state agency. It is involved in processing claims. If the claim dispute gets to a point where the board has to intervene, it will determine the quantity of reimbursement to be made. It also sets out the type of reimbursement received, that is, cash benefits, medical care, or both.
No-Fault Worker's Compensation
The workmen's compensation act does not declare any party to be at fault. The amount of refund that an employee gets cannot decrease due to their carelessness. Also, your reimbursement is not increased based on an employer's fault. But you may lose out on your compensation if it is determined that the injury was inflicted due to drugs. Alcohol is a major factor that is considered. The same applies if you had the intent to injure yourself. Some employees have lost their claims because they intentionally hurt their employees.
The inclusion of no-fault worker's compensation statutes is a major shift from the past. Typically, individuals processing an injury claim are required to prove fault. In fact, Florida's laws go as far as providing a way to calculate fault based on certain percentages. Prove of fault is important when launching personal injury claims. The same does not apply when it comes to work-related injuries.
No-fault worker's compensation statutes have been created to:
- Protect employers against employee lawsuits
- Protect employees against injurious accidents
- Increase settlement options
- Eradicate employer-employee conflicts
Valuable time is normally spent arguing who is at fault. But the workmen's compensation act disregards the need to place blame. It does this in two main ways:
- Employee injury benefits. Compensation laws obligate each employer to get insurance cover for their employees. This protects them from work injuries. They can receive compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. The employer cannot use at fault to deny an employee their rights. That can happen if one works while intoxicated. Alcohol is a major factor that leads to denial of compensation.
- Employer lawsuit avoidance. We have seen that an employee is protected against injuries. The workmen's compensation act also protects employers against lawsuits. Employees give up their right to file a lawsuit against their employer for work injuries. There are some exemptions here. An employee can file lawsuits against third-party offenders. For example, machine accidents are common. Most of these accidents involve faulty machines. You have the liberty to sue the manufacturer in such a circumstance.
Reporting of injuries
Underreporting is a big problem in the worker's compensation system. Workers fear employee retaliation. This makes them choose to remain silent. The law has a solution to this problem. It is illegal for an employer to terminate or refuse to hire an employee because of reporting a workplace injury.
It can be quite challenging to prove discrimination using a worker's claim history. Thus, some states have a subsequent injury trust fund. Its purpose is to reimburse insurers once they make payments to employees. The specific employees targeted are those who encounter re-emergence of a compensable injury. Experts argue that the workmen's compensation act ought to be updated to remove the claims history. Others believe that this may also be made anonymous.
We have seen that each state tends to have its own laws with regards to worker's compensation. This makes compensation rates vary per state. The following table shows the compensation rate per state.
Workers' Compensation: State By State Comparison
|State||Compensation Rate||Temporary Disability Duration||Permanent Disability Duration|
|Alabama||66%||None specified||300 weeks|
|Alaska||80%||None specified||No statutory|
|Arizona||66%||None specified||None specified|
|Arkansas||66%||450 weeks||450 weeks|
|California||66%||None specified||No statutory|
|Colorado||66%||None specified||None specified|
|Connecticut||75%||None specified||500 weeks|
|Delaware||66%||None specified||300 weeks|
|Florida||66%||104 weeks||No statutory|
|Georgia||66%||400 weeks||Statutory schedule|
|Hawaii||66%||None specified||No statutory|
|Idaho||67%||None specified||500 weeks|
|Illinois||66%||None specified||500 weeks|
|Indiana||66%||500 weeks||No statutory|
|Lowa||80%||None specified||500 weeks|
|Kansas||66%||None specified||415 weeks|
|Kentucky||66%||None specified||425 weeks|
|Louisiana||66%||None specified||520 weeks|
|Maine||80%||None specified||364 weeks|
|Maryland||66%||None specified||None specified|
|Massachusetts||60%||156 weeks||260 weeks|
|Michigan||66%||None specified||None specified|
|Minnesota||66%||104 weeks||No statutory|
|Mississippi||66%||450 weeks||450 weeks|
|Missouri||66%||400 weeks||400 weeks|
|Montana||66%||None specified||350 weeks|
|Nebraska||66%||None specified||300 weeks|
|Nevada||66%||None specified||None specified|
|New Hampshire||60%||None specified||262 weeks|
|New Jersey||70%||400 weeks||600 weeks|
|New Mexico||66%||None specified||500-700 weeks|
|New York||66%||None specified||None specified|
|North Carolina||66%||None specified||300 weeks|
|North Dakota||66%||None specified||1500 weeks|
|Ohio||72%||None specified||No statutory|
|Oklahoma||70%||156 weeks||500 weeks|
|Oregon||66%||None specified||No statutory|
|Pennsylvania||66%||None specified||500 weeks|
|Rhode Island||57%||None specified||312 weeks|
|South Carolina||66%||500 weeks||340 weeks|
|South Dakota||66%||None specified||None specified|
|Tennessee||66%||400 weeks||400 weeks|
|Texas||70%||104 weeks||401 weeks|
|Utah||66%||312 weeks||312 weeks|
|Vermont||66%||None specified||No statutory|
|Virginia||66%||500 weeks||500 weeks|
|Washington||60%||None specified||No statutory|
|West Virginia||70%||208 weeks||No statutory|
|Wisconsin||66%||None specified||1000 weeks|
|Wyoming||66%||None specified||No statutory|
Appealing a Denied Claim
Workers compensation can be denied if proper reporting procedures are not followed. The employee can appeal when that happens. A 2018 study found that 70% of appealed claims eventually get paid. Get good legal representation to increase the chances of success. Some prefer to get their claims through state agencies.
Special administrative agencies typically handle compensation cases in most states. These are mainly headed by administrative law judges. They require that you take your appeal to the board. The board then moves your appeal to the state court system.
The workmen's compensation act helps protect employees from the effects of work-related injuries. Do not suffer in silence after incurring a work-related accident. The law is on your side.