| What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state mandated insurance program purchased by employers that provides compensation to employees who suffer a work related illness or injury.
In today’s fast paced society, employers ask their workers to increase their output. When that happens, something has to give. Work injuries can be very serious, even fatal, and it is in your best interest to seek accountability for the injuries that occur on the job. Even if you were a contractor or injured by someone your employer hired to do contract work at your job site, you can seek compensation for your injury.
Workers’ compensation law is governed by statutes in each state. Specific laws vary with each jurisdiction, but key features are consistent:
Our office has represented hundreds of people over the years for occupational injuries ranging from cumulative trauma to occupational cancer cases. Attorney Patrick O’Brien obtained the first verdict in a railroad occupational brain cancer case back in 1996 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At the time, it was the highest jury verdict ever obtained in Hamilton County, Tennessee.
Workers’ compensation law is unique in that negligent acts of either the employer or the injured employee generally are irrelevant to determine compensation. Victims of injuries not related to work in most cases must prove the negligence of another party before recovering money in lawsuits. A defendant in a personal injury lawsuit may avoid or limit liability to Plaintiff whose own negligence caused or contributed to the injury. However, workers’ compensation is a no-fault law, so an employee’s negligence or an employee’s lack of negligence is usually not a factor. An injured worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits only if the injury arose out of and in the course of employment.
Worker’s Compensation Process
Occupational injuries can occur due to a one-time event or can occur over time. Perhaps you were injured in a fall at work that resulted in injury, resulting in an occupational injury. Or, it is possible that consistent exposure to certain toxic materials have contributed to the development of cancer. No matter your injury, under most state workers’ compensation laws, you must prove that the injury was contributed to by your work tasks or exposures.
Evidence of injury from your occupation is essential to building your case. Medical testimony from your doctor is essential to establish this link. Additional medical evidence may include your medical charts and any imagery your doctor and other medical specialists took.
A worker whose injury is covered by the workers’ compensation statute loses the common-law right to sue the employer for that injury, but injured workers may still sue third parties whose negligence contributed to the work injury. For example, in the case of defective equipment that injures you while on the job, you may be able to bring a suit against the equipment manufacturer. If an employee recovers money from a third party lawsuit, he or she must first repay the employer or insurer which paid workers’ compensation benefits. Then the injured employee can keep any remaining money.
It is essential to speak with an experienced attorney to make an occupational claim. Your attorney will have a better understanding of the law and guide you through the right steps to take to file a claim.
Disability and Workers’ Compensation
If you miss work to recover from these injuries, you are entitled to a benefit called temporary total disability (TDD). This is usually two-thirds of the average weekly wage in the state where you are injured. After you have recovered, you may be entitled to an award for permanent partial disability (PPD) if your doctor feels you have sustained a permanent disability. This amount is dictated by a scale that varies from state to state. In Missouri, you would receive an award based on your percentage of disability divided into 400 weeks and multiplied by the PPD amount.
Whether your work injury is covered by worker’s compensation or the Federal Employer’s Liability Act/Jones Act, our office can aid you in receiving the compensation you deserve. We have successfully tried FELA cases to verdict in 15 states and have helped people receive just compensation in at least 30 other states. Please call us with any questions concerning your occupational claim.