You may be wondering what is Workers’ Compensation? is the oldest form of insurance in the United States. In the 20th century, more people were working in factories with hazardous machinery, which caused many workplace injuries. The US Government realized that a system needed to be put in place to compensate the workers that have sustained these injuries.
Before Workers’ Compensation was established, workers had to go through the process of suing their employer to receive some compensation for their injury(s). Worker’s often lost against their employers. This caused a break in relationships between employee and employer due to simple mistrust. Employers would usually use these three defenses against employers:
- The assumption of risk- The injury should have been expected when accepting the job.
- The fellow worker rule – The damage was at the fault of another employee’s negligence.
- Contributory negligence – The injury was due to the worker’s misdoing and neglect.
Workers would have to wait an excessive period of time to receive compensation (only if they won) and if someone was unable to work, they had no ability to generate income. When a worker was lucky enough to earn a case against an employer, the earnings were hefty, but there was no standard scale that the judge was following. The whole system in the 20th century was extremely unfair.
Thankfully, Europe began Workers’ Compensation programs in the United States. In 1884, Germany passed accident and sickness laws. In 1897, England established workers’ compensation. In 1908, the first workers’ compensation law was passed in the United States. Between 1911 and 1920 most took the structures of Europe’s workers’ compensation laws to make their own.
Now that we all know the history of workers’ compensation, we can learn about how it works. Read on to find out more about how workers’ compensation works and the different types of injuries it covers.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation provides workers (or their families, in the case of death) with a set level of compensation for their injury. The good thing about this program is that it takes away the burden of a costly litigation and the worker is guaranteed compensation.
Most of all the 55 different workers’ compensation programs in the United States are run by the state. These programs vary regarding the particular state and what types of injuries are covered. There are also more than 1,200 commercial insurers operating in the U.S. Most employers and companies are required by the government to have workers’ compensation insurance.
Most workers’ compensation programs will pay in full for most of the lost earnings and medical expenses. They will even either pay for the loss of future income or provide vocational rehabilitation for a new job. When a worker is killed on the job, all funeral costs will be covered, and a wage replacement may be in effect for the family. In the case of a work injury, all payments will be given in cash benefit after three to seven days, and compensation will be provided for medical expenses.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Most US employees are covered under the workers’ compensation law. In some states, some people are exempt from workers’ compensation benefits; This includes owners, small businesses (5 people or less), agricultural workers, domestic employees and independent contractors. Although these enterprises may be exempt from receiving workers’ compensation, they may still have to carry general liability insurance.
Workers’ compensation covers more than just injuries that occur at work. Workers’ compensation also includes illnesses or effects suffered from long-term exposure to hazardous or strenuous conditions in the workplace. This can be anything from hearing loss from drilling noises or carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive typing.
The Coming and Going rule is another exemption. You would not receive workers’ compensation if you were hurt on your commute to or from work. However, other transportation-related injuries may be covered by workers’ compensation, such as running errands for an employer, traveling or transporting goods.
If you are hurt at work, you should hire a dedicated and experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to help you. This is especially important if you think that your claim might be challenged by the insurance company or your employer. Many attorneys offer free consultations and will not have to pay attorney fees until your settlement is good.
Though it’s important to consult a lawyer as soon as possible, you should also make sure to file a claim with your employer right after the injury occurs. Your employer will then offer you an employer claim to fill out. The employer or the insurance company may go against the allegation, which would result in a court hearing. Monetary compensation is one-half to two-thirds of average compensation, but this amount is tax-free, which means that you will most likely receive a level of income that is close to your income before the injury. Also, all of your medical expenses will be covered.
Sometimes workers, especially those that are on long-term disability are often offered a settlement. Accepting a settlement may be good for you, but you also have to take into account the possibility of unforeseen medical costs in the future. If this is a concern of yours, you should consider sticking with your current compensation plan.
A big part of any workers’ compensation case is the independent medical examination (IME). A doctor that is chosen by the insurance company will perform this exam. This report will be used to decide the compensation offer. Be observant and aware when you are undergoing one of these exams. Come prepared with a list of questions and take notes before and after the exam.
If you happen to be unhappy with the result of your workers’ compensation case, it may be difficult to sue. However, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you file an appeal to the state workers’ compensation board.
Workers’ Compensation by the Numbers
Looking at the statistics for Work Injuries and Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania is important. The figures surrounding workers’ compensation show you how widely used it is. In 2014, Benefit payments that were paid under workers’ compensation totaled $62.3 billion. Medical benefits accounted for $31.4 billion of that spending.
From 1994-2012, the medical only cases rounded to about 57.3%. This number represents some workers that recover fully and return to work- benefits end.
Some workers, unfortunately, return to function without a full recovery. This may result in fewer duties and a smaller salary. Because they are still partially disabled, these workers receive temporary partial disability benefits. Between 1994 and 2012, temporary partial disability benefits made up 60.8% in average.
Workers that are permanently disabled receive permanent total disability. These cases made up of less than 1% from 1994-2012. These numbers indicate that significant, permanent disability may be less than the other figures but compensating those that endured catastrophic injuries at work is expensive.
The third class of benefits is a permanent partial disability. Workers that fall in this category have permanent disabilities, but they are still able to work. The injury affects the claimant’s life but does not stop them from working. On average, permanent partial disabilities make up 40.7% of workers’ compensation claims from 1994-2012. These numbers prove that workers’ compensation is an enormous, yet considerable expense.
Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo is an experienced workers’ compensation firm located all over Pennsylvania. Our dedicated attorneys can walk you through your workers’ compensation case. Contact us at (866) 948-9088 for a free consultation!