Filing for workers compensation is a daunting experience for any employee. The process for obtaining workers compensation payments for injuries on the job is often lengthy and complex. In addition, many people know very little about the workers compensation program's rules and regulations. This article answers some of the crucial questions related to this important topic.
Am I Automatically Covered?
The workers compensation programs across the United States cover most employees, but some key exceptions exist. For example, if you are working as a volunteer or independent contractor then the law does not consider you to be an employee and therefore you are not covered. Domestic and landscape workers who work part-time for a particular employer, such as maids and gardeners, are also not covered by the program. Some agricultural workers are exempt as well.
Other people not covered include federal workers, railroad employees and dock workers. They are all covered by other government programs, such as the Federal Employees Compensation Act.
Is My Injury Covered?
The law states that any injury or illness specifically related to your job makes you eligible for workers compensation payments. For example, if you develop lung problems due to your smoking on the job, this would not be considered work related. But if you develop lung issues due to long-term exposure to hazardous substances at your workplace, you would qualify for benefits.
An important point to keep in mind is that the injury only has to be work related; it does not necessarily have to occur at the workplace. If you are injured while traveling on a business trip, for instance, you could be eligible for the program.
Another key point is that if you are injured due to misconduct on your part, such as falling down because you were drunk on the job, this can disqualify you from receiving any benefits.
Can I Pick My Doctor?
It's typically to your advantage to select a physician of your choosing to assess any work-related injury. A doctor chosen by your employer might have an incentive to minimize the extent of your injury. Whether you can pick your doctor depends on the laws of your state. Some states, such as Texas, let you choose any qualified doctor. Other states, such as Florida, allow the employer to choose.
Winning a workers compensation case is extremely difficult without expert advice. Your employer will almost certainly have legal representation and you should as well. For best results, contact an experienced workers compensation lawyer in your area, or click here for more information.