Helpful Insight Regarding Work-Related Injuries & Diseases
With the amount of time that the average working adult spends at the workplace or performing job duties, it is no wonder that 2010 saw more than three million nonfatal illnesses and injuries in the private industry alone (according to statistics presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Fortunately, injured workers may be covered by workers' compensation, which offers benefits for lost earnings and medical expenses for work-related injuries and occupational diseases. You can learn more about workers' comp by reviewing the frequently asked questions included below:
What is workers' compensation?
Workers' compensation is a system wherein employers are required to cover, or provide insurance that covers, medical expenses and lost earnings for employees' work-related injuries and illnesses.
Do I need to prove that someone else caused my injuries?
One of the main advantages of workers' compensation is that the injured worker does not need to prove that someone else was at fault for his or her injuries. The only requirement is that the injury is related to the worker's job duties or occurred at work.
What is an occupational disease? How do I know if my disease is covered?
An occupational disease is a medical condition caused by the victim's place of employment or job duties. Some examples may include mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure at manufacturing facilities, black lung in coal miners and lead poisoning affecting workers that deal with lead or lead compounds.
What are some common types of workplace accidents?
Falls are one of the most common types of workplace accidents, with 208,470 cases reported in 2010 alone (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Other common incidents include slip and fall accidents, auto accidents, injuries from falling objects and accidents caused by heavy machinery, tools or equipment.
Will my injury be covered even if I was responsible?
Your on-the-job injury should be covered by workers' compensation even if you were responsible, as long as you did not act intentionally to cause harm or were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Am I entitled to workers' comp benefits if I lost a loved one in an on-the-job accident?
Families of workers who have lost their lives in work-related accidents or from occupational diseases may be entitled to benefits for funeral costs and lost earnings. This compensation can make a significant difference in a family's ability to face a more stable financial future.
What should I do if I was injured at work?
If you have been injured at work, make sure you inform your manager or supervisor right away. Seek medical treatment (except in emergency situations, you must obtain treatment from a medical provider authorized by the New York State Workers' Compensation Board). You must also inform your employer, in writing, of what occurred. If you wait too long to tell your employer, you may lose the right to workers' comp benefits. You will need to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits, which you can do on your own or with the help of an attorney. You may find it helpful to involve an attorney early in the process, as filing a claim and seeking benefits can be complex.
Do I need to hire an attorney to handle my claim?
You are not required to hire an attorney to handle your workers' compensation claim. However, filing a claim and securing fair benefits can be difficult, particularly if your employer or the workers' comp insurance company tries to deny that your injuries are work-related. An attorney can ensure your rights are protected, can help expedite the process by properly filing your claim and can help if any issues should arise, such as a denial.