5 Important Things to Know About Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is designed to offer benefits to workers who are hurt on the job. Workers’ comp offers several types of benefits, including medical care, rehabilitation, and lost wages. Here are 5 facts you may not know about workers’ compensation.

#1. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system
Unlike traditional injury lawsuits, injured workers are not obligated to prove who was at fault for the accident because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means injured workers are entitled to benefits even if they contributed to the accident or it was caused by the employer.

#2. Employees waive their right to sue their employer
Workers’ compensation all but guarantees benefits to workers who suffer a work-related injury or illness, but there is a trade-off: employees cannot then sue their employer to recover other damages. While workers’ compensation benefits are more limited than those available through a lawsuit, benefits are more certain and the process is easier.

#3. Workers’ comp does not pay for non-economic damages
Economic damages refers to medical expenses (current and future), lost wages, disability, and other easily quantifiable damages in an injury claim. Workers’ compensation does pay for most of these expenses, but it does not pay injured workers for pain and suffering, disfigurement, and other non-economic damages. The types of workers’ comp benefits available include rehabilitation, medical benefits, temporary or permanent disability, and death benefits.

#4. Employers are usually required to carry workers’ compensation insurance
In most states, employers are required to carry sufficient workers’ compensation insurance to protect their employees unless they have a very limited number of workers or only independent contractors. If you are hurt on the job and your employer does not have insurance, you generally have several legal options, including turning to a state workers’ comp fund for benefits, while the employer will be severely penalized. Employers can also face stiff penalties for improperly employees as independent contractors to avoid or reduce workers’ comp insurance premiums.

#5. Third party lawsuits are still possible
While it’s true that the workers’ compensation system protects employers from being sued by injured workers for liability in an accident, this does not mean you can never sue if you are injured, even if you receive workers’ comp benefits. A third party personal injury lawsuit may be possible if someone other than the employer contributed to the accident, such as an equipment or power tool manufacturer. There are also a few exceptions in which an employer can be sued. It’s important to note that you will generally need to return any benefits you received to the workers’ comp insurance company if you win a personal injury lawsuit. Still, a lawsuit usually offers the highest possible recovery and the ability to recover for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

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