Articles

Your Rights to Workers' Compensation Benefits

By: Attorney Ira C. Miller "Of Counsel"
  1. When Can You Collect Workers' Compensation Benefits?
    (a) Accidental Injury
    If you are injured while working or while on your employer's property, you are entitled to Workers' Compensation Benefits, no matter who is at fault.

    (b) Occupational Disease
    If you are exposed to harmful working conditions, such as dust, chemicals, fumes or loud noise and you develop a health problem, such as breathing difficulties or hearing loss, you may be entitled to Workers' Compensation Benefits. Also, if you are exposed to stressful work effort, and you suffer a heart attack, stroke, back problems, nervous condition or any physical problem, you may be entitled to Workers' Compensation Benefits.

  2. What Are You Entitled To Under Workers' Compensation Law?
    If you have a work related injury or condition, your employer is responsible for the following:
    (a) Medical treatment for the injury or condition. This would include costs of hospitalization, doctors and drugs.

    (b) Temporary Compensation Benefits
    If you are unable to work as a result of your injury or condition, and under approved medical care, your employer is responsible for payment of temporary compensation benefits, provided you are unable to work for more than 7 days. Temporary compensation benefits are payable at the rate of 70% of your weekly wages up to a maximum which varies depending upon the year of injury or disability.

    The maximum for a 1996 injury is $480.00 per week. The maximum for a 1997 injury is $496.00 per week. The maxi-mum for a 1998 injury is $516.00 per week. The maximum for a 1999 injury is $539.00 per week. The maximum for a 2000 injury is $568.00 per week. The maximum for a 2001 injury is $591.00 per week.

    (c) Permanent Disability Benefits
    If, as a result of your condition or injury, you have a permanent impairment, you are entitled to an award of compensation benefits for this impairment. Permanent impairment may consist not only of the obvious such as the loss of a finger or hand, but also residual pain, restricted motion, loss of hearing, shortness of breath, etc. You do not have to be totally disabled to be entitled to permanent disability benefits. You may be fully capable of performing your regular work and still receive such benefits.

  3. What To Do If You Are Injured?
    (a) Notify your supervisor immediately

    (b) Demand medical treatment if you feel you need it.
    If you don't ask for treatment, your employer may not be responsible to pay the bills. Your employer has the right to select the doctor, but exceptions can be made in emergency situations.

    (c) It is strongly recommended that you contact an attorney experienced in Workers Compensation matters to help you protect your rights. Bear in mind that insurance companies have an entire staff of attorneys whose job it is to keep the insurance company's payments as small as possible. The lawyer you contact cannot charge a fee. All attorneys' fees are set by the Judge of Compensation and are payable only from the award the attorney obtains for you. If the attorney does not obtain an award for you, he receives no fee. Additionally, the Judge of Compensation will normally require the insurance company to pay the major portion of any fee he sets for your attorney's services. There is never a charge for the initial consultation.

 

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