Workers’ compensation is a category of insurance that compensates an injured employee regardless of who is at fault when the person is hurt in the course of employment, in exchange for the employee’s mandatory relinquishment of rights to sue the employer for negligence. Workers’ compensation also provides benefits to dependents of a worker killed because of a work-related accident.
If a worker is hurt by a party other than the employer at the workplace, such as when a delivery person harasses a receptionist, the worker may recover from the outside party, but may need to reimburse the employer if the recovery from the outside party is higher than the workers’ compensation payments received.
Work-related injuries can result from slips and falls, toxic chemical exposures, machine injuries, car accidents, or repetitive job duties. According to a release dated November 19, 2009 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace fatalities were most common in trade, transportation, construction, construction, and utilities sectors, followed by professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, then building and grounds cleaning and maintenance. For example, housekeepers at hotels may experience injuries to the back and upper extremities cleaning 25-30 rooms/day.
Insurance plans differ by jurisdiction. Generally, the injured worker gets payments that are not subject to state or federal taxes, in lieu of wages, to compensate for economic, vocational rehabilitation, and medical care losses, but not pain and suffering or punitive damages. Pain and suffering damages compensate for physical and emotional stress. Punitive damages punish or deter people from engaging in similar conduct leading to a personal injury.
State laws require employers to notify employees of their legal rights to workers’ compensation benefits with posters in public areas such as break rooms on the claims procedures and benefits. Some employers do not like paying workers’ compensation premiums, and fear that, when workers get injured, their premiums will increase, or the employees will take advantage to take time off from work with benefits when they are not really hurt.
An employer assists in a workers’ compensation claim when it is aware of the facts surrounding an accident. When hurt on the job, request that the employer report the injury to the insurance company immediately so an investigation can be made to process claim benefits. Typical workers’ compensation disputes include an employer retaliating against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim, or an insurance company stopping payments before an employee attains full recovery from injuries.
When injured in an accident, look to an experienced Florida personal injury attorney who dedicates to the job of recovering damages for clients.