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Workers’ Compensation: Immediate Financial Benefit to Injured Workers

Workers’ Compensation is like an insurance program that provides financial benefits to workers who get injured on the job or who develop a work-related illness. Benefits include cash payments, to partially replace lost wages, and medical treatment. In case of temporary total disability (TTD) benefits will be paid while the worker recuperates (payment of benefits begins on the fourth day of absence from work and continues until the worker returns to work or is medically recovered enough to return to similar work). A worker may also be entitled to receive permanent disability benefits and, in case of death, the worker’s dependents shall receive survivor benefits.

Before workers’ compensation laws were enacted (it was only in 1949 when all states had enacted a Workers’ Compensation program), the only legal means for an injured worker to receive compensation for a work-related injury was to file a civil or tort suit against his or her employer and prove that the cause the injury was the employer’s negligence. Under the tort system, however, workers usually lost suits so that they were denied recovering damages; those who did recover damages, on the other hand, often experienced delays.

Ultimately, a law was passed which would ensure that a worker who sustained an occupational injury or who developed an illness in the course of employment, would be entitled to immediately receive compensation, regardless of who was at fault for the injury or illness. Workers who accepted compensation that was offered through the Workers’ Compensation program gave up the right to sue their employer.

Workers’ Compensation programs, also known as Workman’s Compensation Insurance or Employers’ Liability Insurance, are enforced and controlled by the states. These programs vary among states in terms of who may be allowed to provide insurance, the types of injuries or illnesses that may be considered compensable, and the benefits qualified claimants can receive. With regard to what injuries and illnesses may be considered compensable, the Lamarca Law Group, P.C., says that injuries and illnesses, especially those that can permanently affect one’s ability to continue working or complete normal day-to-day tasks are definitely deserving of the Workers’ Comp benefits.

The Minnesota Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Robert Wilson & Associates, however, says that Workers’ Compensation companies are not always eager to fulfill their promises or issue the amount of compensation the worker may deserve. Some of these companies even deny coverage and payouts to deserving victims.

It is needless to point out just how important Workers’ Comp benefits are to an injured worker. It would be to a worker’s advantage, therefore, if he or she were to seek help form a highly-skilled workers’ compensation lawyer in the event of a job-related injury or illness.

Making sure that Application for Long-Term or Permanent Disability Benefits is Approved

If a worker gets injured while performing his or her work, or develops an illness, which can be identified as a result of work conditions, such as stress-related digestive problems, emotional illness, and repetitive stress injury, which largely affects the hands, wrists and forearms, then he or she is most likely eligible to cash benefits from the Workers’ Compensation program. Repetitive stress injury, which is caused by repetitive motions of the body, is known under different names, such as repeated motion injuries (RMIs), cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs), and repetitive stress injuries (RSIs)].

Workers’ compensation, also called Workers’ Comp, is a state-required insurance program aimed at providing cash benefits to employees who suffer job-related injuries and illnesses. The cash benefit is coverage for the necessary medical treatment and hospitalization, and may include rehabilitation, retraining, disability and death.

A worker, who sustains any job-related injury, whether the injury was sustained at the workplace or not (like cases wherein an employee is on a work-related errand, traveling on business, or at a required business-related social function) is eligible to apply for the benefit. Whoever is at fault for the accident that resulted to the injury also does not matter, so long as the injury was not self-inflicted, not sustained because the (injured) worker was drunk or drugged, or was not a result of violation of federal/state laws or company policies on workplace safety.

There are differences with regard to the severity of injuries and illnesses, however, as well as on the length of time these may render a worker incapable of performing work. While some injuries may require three to seven days treatment and healing time, others are severe enough that these either require weeks to months of recuperation period or result to disability (temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent total disability, or permanent partial disability).

If a worker’s injury eventually leads to permanent partial disability or permanent total disability, then he or she may be qualified to receive long-term disability benefits from Workers’ Comp. Workers’ Comp, however, is not the only source of financial benefits for permanently disabled workers – there are also the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and, if available, the employer-sponsored long-term disability LTD coverage.

Unlike Workers’ Comp and LTD, SSDI has requirements that an injured worker first needs to meet before being held eligible for disability benefits, including: having earned the required number of credits (credits are earned thru payment of FICA taxes which are automatically deducted from a worker’s monthly pay); having worked for a certain number of years before becoming disabled; and having a disability that is totally serious or included in the Social Security Administration list of disabling injuries and illnesses.

Besides cost of medical treatment, disability benefits include coverage for lost wages; this is to make sure that the victim, with his or her family, has some income to live on. It is important to know, however, that the total amount of all cash benefits is about 80% of the injured worker’s average current earnings. This is because, if the worker were receiving benefits from his/her LTD provider, for instance, such provider has the legal right to offset/deduct the amount that the injured is receiving from SSDI and/or Workers’ Comp against the monthly LTD payment it makes (to the injured). In fact, some LTD providers would even go to the extent of hiring a disability attorney to represent the injured before the Social Security or Workers’ Comp in order to make sure that his/her claims for benefits are approved. Refusal to apply for SSDI or Workers’ Comp benefits may result to cessation of the monthly LTD payment.

On its website, the LaMarca Law Group, P.C. explains that, while long-term disability benefits can definitely save a family from sinking into financial crisis, its process of application plus all the requirements that need to be met and prepared can be extra challenging even to skilled, yet, inexperienced long-term/permanent disability attorneys.

The website of law firm Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC speaks about these same legal obstacles in its website, saying, “Not only are there a number of bureaucratic hoops through which the agencies that manage these benefits schemes will make you jump, but the individuals reviewing your application are eager to find any justification for dismissing or denying your claim. The insurance companies do so to protect their bottom line, and the governmental agencies are trying to cling tightly to the tax dollars with which they have been entrusted.”

Disabling injuring and illnesses are causes of too much pain and suffering already; denying claims filed by eligible individuals sort of adds insult to injury. Applying for a claim is a legal process.

Read that Charlie wants to thank the Charleston personal injury lawyers of the Clawson & Staubes, LLC: Injury Group.