The purpose of the workers compensation program is to provide financial support to employees who are injured while working or who are prevented from working because of work-related illnesses or diseases. Workers compensation will not make you rich, and it probably won't match the income you lose by not being able to work, but it will provide some replacement income and probably cover medical expenses.
Workers compensation is designed to compensate you for an injury or illness that results from your job, and because of that, you lose the right to sue your employer. You can either receive workers compensation or you can sue your employer for monetary damages, but you cannot do both. Thus, it is wise to consult an attorney about possible legal claims against your employer before you file for workers compensation. Nolo's Encyclopedia of Everyday Law (see References) provides a basic explanation of your rights as an employee.
Workers compensation is financial support. Funds are sent to you as replacement income, meaning they can be used to cover your daily expenses such as food, clothing, housing and transportation. Because the amount of compensation you receive will not be large, you probably won't have much money left after covering the basic necessities, but you can also receive compensation to cover medical expenses related to the injury or illness.
Covered Injuries and Ilnesses
You can generally collect workers compensation if you are injured or contract a work-related illness while working for your employer. You need not be at the job site, but you must be on the job. For example, a warehouse worker who is injured while operating a forklift in the warehouse is covered because the he was on the clock at the time of the injury. Similarly, a warehouse worker injured while out of state attending a work-related training meeting is also covered because he was on the job even if he was not on the job site.
Workers compensation is funded by your employer and other employers within your state. By law, all employers must purchase workers compensation insurance from a licensed insurance carrier. The employer pays the insurance premiums, or if the employer is large enough and has enough available cash, it may act as its own insurance carrier. The purpose of the insurance program is to ensure that funds are available for injured employees who file legitimate claims.
How to File a Claim
Most states require that you report your injury or illness within 30 days of either the occurrence of the injury or illness or the day it was discovered. When you report your injury, your employer must provide you with the forms you need to file a claim with the insurance carrier. You must then fill out the forms and then work with the insurance carrier to process your claim.
- Nolo's Encyclopedia of Everyday Law, Shae Irving, J.D. (7th Ed. 2008)
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