Workers Compensation Insurance: What It Entails

By: Samuel Eric

For any employee, the risk of injury is always around the corner whether the job is hazardous or deemed to be 'safe'. Dangers may lurk where you least expect them, for example, faulty stairways could give way and lead to nasty falls, elevators may malfunction and cause injury and so on. Of course, the danger is greater when working in riskier places like factories and plants but at the end of the day, any job can pose a threat both big and small.

Thankfully, workers can ensure that they are compensated for injuries sustained in the workplace. In return for compensation, they do not sue the company for negligence. This win-win situation guarantees that both parties benefit from the tradeoff and matters can go back to being the way they were.

Workers compensation insurance can vary from state to state although there are some commonalities. But what is important to remember is that unlike other compensation plans, workers compensation doesn't ordinarily provide for general damages like punitive damages which are awarded in cases where compensatory damages are deemed to be inadequate.

The need for workers compensation arose as more industries were being set up and hazardous jobs increased. Since it was relatively common for workers in these places to suffer injury, a system was devised whereby employees were eligible for compensation. Prior to the establishment of this system, workers had to sue employers to pay for medical expense and recovery of wages. Now, however, matters are handled not by suing but by employers compensating their workers for damages.

Benefits of workers compensation

Workers are entitled to certain benefits under the compensation program. They can be repaid for lost earnings owing to injury, medical expenses and compensation for loss of future earnings. More serious injuries may render employees unable to continue with their designated jobs. In this case, they can receive vocational rehab to train for new occupations.

If an employee dies during the course of his work, the employers are liable to cover the funeral costs as well as provide wage-replacement benefits to his survivors.

It's important to understand that all compensation programs cover those workers with an increased risk of sustaining injury in a workplace. For instance, employees working as agricultural workers or domestic workers may be exempt from the program. While this isn't the case in all states, it does apply to several.

Filing a compensation claim

If one has little or no knowledge of compensation programs and how to go about filing a claim, it is best to hire lawyers who can break down the technical jargon and make you aware of what you can claim and what the program doesn't cover. However, the first step an injured worker must take is to file a claim with his employer who will give him a form to fill. Once the claim has been made, the employer may seek to contest the claim in which case a court hearing will be held. The worker's lawyer will then represent him in court.

Common causes to file compensation claims

Interestingly, a large number of reasons upon which claims are filed have little to do with very serious injuries. Instead, workers file claims citing reasons like sprains and strains and lesser conditions that weren't so common in the old days: carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition wherein a nerve in the wrist is injured due to repetitive motions like typing. The cause is to be expected, however, as a large number of modern jobs require hours of computer work.

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