If you have been injured on your job or become ill due to the nature of the work you do, you are probably familiar with workers’ compensation. In fact, you may be receiving workers compensation payments right now because of an injury or illness you have suffered at work.
Workers’ compensation is a required type or form of business insurance. It provides benefits in the form of income, medical coverage and rehabilitation to employees who suffer illness, injury or death arising out of, and in the course of, their employment. This is regardless of whether the employee was at fault. These financial benefits may also be given to survivors of workers who lose their life on the job and to a worker’s dependents. These benefits are claimed by the employee and/or their dependents or survivors as a matter of “right.” The employer cannot resort to any legal defense. In return, the worker and/or his dependents or survivors are prevented from suing the employer for injuries or the death of the worker.
Workers' compensation laws were enacted to reduce the need for litigation and to mitigate the requirement that injured workers must prove that their injuries were the “fault” of their employer. Maryland enacted the first state law in 1902. The first federal law was enacted in 1906. All of the states had passed some kind of workers’ compensation laws by 1949.
Originally, these laws were known as “workman’s compensation.” Most states now use the gender-neutral term “workers’ compensation.” It has also been referred to as “workers comp.”
As mentioned earlier, the design and purpose of these workers’ compensation laws are to reduce the need for litigation and mitigate workers proving that their injuries were the fault of their employer. These laws are also designed to ensure that payment is made by employers for some part of the cost of injuries, or in some cases of occupational diseases, received by employees arising out of, and in the course of their work.
Worker's compensation laws require your employer to furnish a reasonably safe place to work, reasonably competent superintendents and foreman and suitable equipment, instructions and rules when they are reasonably necessary. Your employer is liable for their own gross negligence, for extraordinary risks of your work and your own or another employee's acts of negligence. In most instances, your employer is not liable for accidents that occur away from your place of work, or for those which have not come directly from your employment.
The amount paid as your compensation is based on your salary as an employee. In some states it is also based on the number of your dependents. Workers’ compensation is usually subject to a specified maximum. It is usually a relatively modest amount that is paid.
The cost of workers' compensation benefits to your employer is based on the severity and number of injuries and illnesses that your type of employer experiences and your employer’s gross payroll. For example, a manufacturing company would have higher workers' compensation costs than a professional consulting firm.
The state laws regarding workers' compensation vary from state to state. The Federal Employment Compensation Act protects and covers workers whose jobs involve interstate commerce or non-military federal employees. Dependents of these workers who are killed because of work-related illnesses or accidents are also provided benefits. There are also laws which protect co-workers and employers by eliminating the liability of fellow workers in most accidents and by limiting the amount an injured employee can recover from their employer.
There are other laws which provide similar protection to employees for injuries due to employer negligence. Two examples of this coverage are the Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA) for railroad employees and the Merchant Marine Act (the Jones Act) for seamen. Compensation for miners who have “black lung disease” (pneumoconiosis) is provided by the Black Lung Benefits Act. The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides workers' compensation to specified employees of private maritime employers.
Any employer, who was aware of the likelihood of one of their employees being injured in the performance of their work unless precautions are taken for their safety but deliberately fails to take those precautions, is liable for willful misconduct. Willful misconduct on the part of an employee may prevent any recovery from workers' compensation. Willful misconduct is something that is determined by the facts of each particular case. It is generally considered to be more than negligence or gross negligence. It may be considered to be quasi-criminal.
An example of willful misconduct is when a court found that an employee’s acts of sexual harassment constituted "intentional and willful misconduct" under the Workers’ Compensation law. The court said that the employee "knew what he was doing was wrong" and yet he continued in his actions. The employee’s behavior was labeled "voluntary, crude and unprofessional." The court also held that there was a sufficient basis for finding that the employee’s behavior went all the way to the level of moral turpitude. It could then be called "intentional and willful."
You may have been injured or become ill or debilitated arising out of, and in the course of your employment. For one reason or another, your employer may have refused to give you or is contesting your workers’ compensation claims and benefits.
You may have tried unsuccessfully to fight this. You tried to take care of it yourself. You may realize now that you need the services of a professional to help you get your workers’ compensation benefits.
Who do you turn to for help? Who do you go to? How do you choose the right lawyer to help you? Family lawyers and those who have a general law practice are great, but are they the right ones for you as you deal with your employer about workers’ compensation because of your illness or injury on the job?
You need an attorney who knows and specializes in employment law. You need an attorney who works with workers’ compensation cases every day. You need an employment attorney who handles workers’ compensation cases.
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Do not wait. Do not delay. Do not hesitate. This may affect you and your family for the rest of your life. Contact the employment lawyer at employmentattorneyhome.com, today.