Workplace accidents can lead to the need for expensive treatment, as well as lost work and wages. Examples of workplace accidents include the following:
Worker’s compensation is supposed to provide for recovery and lost wages, but it doesn’t always work out the way it is intended. When this occurs, you may need to go to court.
Worker’s compensation is the name for a collection of benefits that you may be able to collect after an injury. These benefits include coverage of all medical bills related to the injury, along with temporary disability benefits. Depending on the extent of the injury, there may also be permanent disability benefits awarded. If you were to die as a result of the injury, your family may receive death benefits.
There are also limitation on the amount of benefits. These vary by jurisdiction and state law. In general, there is a scale in place that is used to place a dollar value on a specific class of injury. Benefits can be paid out up to this limit. You will need to go to court if your bills have exceeded the limitations.
Proper reporting of the injury is vital if you want to claim a workplace injury. You must follow the basic chain of reporting:
Report the accident to your immediate supervisor.
Fill out an accident report and file it with your supervisor or the HR department.
Visit a doctor on your workplace insurance’s approved list. This may be temporarily waived if you must go to emergency services.
Contact a lawyer for a consultation. Even if a lawsuit isn’t necessary, it’s important to have legal consultation to make sure you file all the paperwork within the given timeframes to ensure full compensation.
You will need to keep all documentation of your expenses and proof of lost wages in order to file your full claim. This includes medical invoices, receipts for all out-of-pocket treatment costs (such as medication), transportation costs to and from treatments, proof of lost wages and benefits (including sick and vacation pay that is used), and any other costs that maybe associated with the injury.
Appealing a case
If your claim is denied you may need to appeal your case, with the aid of an attorney. There is a window of time where appeals are allowed, so make sure you file immediately after a denial. You may then need to go to court to work for the benefits you deserve.
Knowing what to expect if your case goes to court is also important. Your attorney will first file the case with the court. Once it has been approved for trial, you will then begin preparations. Your attorney will attend a pretrial hearing – it is not required that you attend. During this hearing the actual trial date will be set.
In some cases, mediation is recommended, either by the court or by one of the attorneys. You may choose to participate if you want, but you are not required to reach an agreement in mediation. If mediation fails to offer a settlement that you can agree upon, the case will continue to trial.
The next step is a control date and facilitation. At facilitation, both parties will present the case to an impartial judge that will not be sitting the actual hearing. The impartial judge will then make a settlement amount recommendation based upon the evidence. You do not have to agree to this amount, although settling at this point is an option.
Finally, you will proceed to the formal hearing where you and your attorney will argue your case. This can take several days. Once completed, a ruling will be made on the final settlement.
Settlements for past expenses are generally paid out as a lump sum, minus the attorney’s fees, within a specified timeframe after the final hearing. If you are awarded ongoing benefits because you are still in recovery, then you will receive a lump sum for past expenses and then coverage payments for any new expenses that come up.