Worker's compensation insurance is a government-regulated insurance policy that's designed to provide medical care, disability income, and other benefits to employees who are injured on the job. In most states, employers must carry worker's compensation insurance or face penalties. If you've been injured on the job and feel like your employer isn't treating your claim fairly, it's essential to know how to get help. Here are some tips for dealing with a worker's comp claim.
1. Get An Attorney
First, you're entitled to a lawyer. If your employer offers one, they must also offer a referral list of lawyers in your area who handle workers' comp cases. You can also contact the local bar association for referrals. Hiring an attorney is often expensive, but it's not always the most important factor in selecting legal representation.
It's better to have someone who understands the complexities of your case than someone who charges less but may not be able to win it for you. Make sure you're comfortable talking with your attorney about anything related to your case—including money matters such as settlements and fees—before signing anything or forking over any money upfront.
2. Document Everything
Another important thing is to document everything. Take pictures of any injuries you receive at work and keep records of all doctor visits, physical therapy appointments, and any other treatment you receive as part of your claim. You should also track how much time off you take due to your injuries; this is especially important if you are off work for more than two weeks.
If possible, get evidence from witnesses who saw the accident or heard about it from others. Include this information in your claim paperwork when filing with your insurer, and keep copies for yourself in case they're needed later on. And if you have any questions about your claim, ask them in writing; this will help avoid any misunderstandings later on.
3. Notify Your Employer Right Away
Tell your employer as soon as possible if you're injured on the job so they can report it to their workers' comp insurance company. They'll need medical documentation of your injury, so it's important to keep track of all visits with doctors or other medical providers after an accident. Once your claim is approved by workers' comp, it may take several weeks or months before benefits are actually paid out; having this documentation can help speed up the process.
4. Know Your Rights
Another thing you need to do is know what your rights are as an employee. Worker's compensation laws vary by state, but some basic rights apply across the board. Injured employee rights in Texas include medical care and wage replacement payments until they can return to work or reach maximum medical improvement (which means they've recovered as much as they can). The amount of wage replacement varies depending on whether the employee is partially or totally disabled (meaning they can still work).
In most cases, employees can choose their own doctors and hospitals, but they may be required to use doctors or facilities that are on the approved list of their employer's insurance company. You should know how much time and money you'll be entitled to receive if you're injured at work.
5. Know the Law
A general knowledge of the law can help you navigate your way through the process of filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits. There are many laws governing this process, including state laws and federal regulations. If you're unsure about something, ask your employer or contact an attorney who specializes in workers' comp cases for advice on how best to proceed with your claim.
Worker's compensation is a necessity for workplace safety, and it is meant as protection for employees. The last thing you want to do is aggravate your injury or delay your recovery in any way.