What Are My Employer's Responsibilities Under Workers' Compensation Laws?
Workers' compensation insurance benefits provide cash and medical care for workers who become disabled because of an injury or sickness suffered because of their job. If death results, benefits are payable to a worker's surviving spouse and dependents. In most states, employers are required to purchase insurance for their employees from a workers' compensation insurance carrier. In some states, larger employers who are clearly solvent are allowed to self-insure, or act as their own insurance companies, while smaller companies (with fewer than three or four employees) are not required to carry workers' compensation insurance at all. When a worker is injured, his or her claim is filed with the insurance company, or self-insuring employer, who pays medical and disability benefits according to a state-approved formula.
Workers' Compensation Benefits & Returning to Work
Under most workers' compensation systems, an injured employee is entitled to the following types of benefits...
- Medical Care
- Temporary Compensation
- Permanent Disability
- Disfigurement Allowance
Can I Recover Workers' Compensation Benefits If I Work for Federal, State or Local Government?
Whether a state or municipal employee is covered by the state's workers' compensation statutes (or by a different system) depends on the specific provisions of each state's laws. In general, state workers' compensation statutes specifically set forth which types of employees are eligible to receive benefits under the state system, and which types of employees are not.
Can I Sue My Employer Instead of Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim?
The answer to this question is, in most cases, "no." Workers' compensation systems were established as a tradeoff in which employees gave up the right to sue employers in court for their injuries, in exchange for the right to receive workers' compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault for their injuries. Most employers are required by law to provide workers' compensation insurance for the benefit of their employees. In exchange for providing that insurance, employers are protected from defending personal injury claims brought by employees in civil actions.
What are the Rehabilitation Rights of Injured Workers?
The word "rehabilitation" in the area of workers' compensation has two very different meanings. When most people think of rehabilitation, they think of physical therapy or rehabilitative care aimed at overcoming an injury and regaining functionality. Did you know that there is also vocational rehabilitation? In many states, injured workers who cannot return to their former employment are entitled to this type of rehabilitation at the expense of their employer's workers' compensation carrier.
Workers' Compensation Resource Links
Federation of 54 labor unions provides links to information on occupational health and workers' rights.
Provides statistics and articles on injuries and illnesses in the workplace from the federal government's labor statistics agency.
A free consulting service for workers with disabilities and their employers from the US Department of Labor that provides information about job accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the employability of people with disabilities.