When people are injured at work, they are understandably confused when they find out that they cannot sue their employers. However, barring extremely unique circumstances, lawsuits against employers for work injuries are not allowed. This is because of the workers’ compensation system.
Workers’ compensation exists to protect both the employee and the employer. Normally, if you are injured, you have to prove negligence in order to successfully win a case. Since lawsuits take a long time, you would likely be out of work with no income during the time you spend trying to prove your claim. On the other hand, the employer would have to hire an attorney and go to the expense of fighting your lawsuit. Instead, the government implemented the workers’ compensation system. Employers are required to have insurance so that if their employers are injured at work, the employees will receive a portion of their salaries along with payment for medical care required due to the injury. However, in exchange for this protection, the employee gives up the right to sue and cannot recover for pain and suffering he experiences due to his injury.
As noted, workers’ compensation pays injured employees who are unable to work a certain percentage of their weekly wages. In addition, the benefits cover all medical costs related to the injury. This means that the employee should have no out of pocket costs for his medical care for the work injury. In addition, if an employee suffers an amputation or a scar on his face, specific benefits can be awarded as well.
Sometimes, the insurance company (or the employer if self-insured) quickly pays up and cooperates if an employee is injured. This is especially common in the case of short term injuries that are not particularly serious. But, sometimes, the insurance company won’t want to take responsibility for the injury and won’t want to pay for benefits. In other cases, the insurance company will argue about whether the employee should be out of work or whether he is permanently injured. In those cases, workers have no choice but to fight for their benefits.
Generally speaking, it is best to speak with a lawyer as soon as you know you will be out of work for more than two weeks. It is also wise to speak to a lawyer immediately if your employer is not cooperating. Your lawyer should not charge you for a consultation and should only charge you a fee if he has to become involved in your case. Involved means obtaining benefits, restoring benefits or getting you a lump sum payment.