If you have been involved in an accident while on the job, you may be concerned about how you can qualify for your company’s workers’ compensation policy. Is there a certain length of time you need to be out of commission before you can become eligible, or are you eligible as soon as you are no longer able to work?
We have asked a legal expert, attorney Alaina Sullivan, about what you should do. Here is what she had to say:
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance paid by an employer to cover injuries sustained by the employee during the normal course of business. These benefits can be paid to the employee for medical care, rehabilitation and income lost because of the injury. Workers’ compensation is paid to the employee to help him or her return back to work. These benefits can also help the hurt individual’s dependents, as well, as a result of the injury sustained on the job.
When Can I Become Eligible?
Employees are normally covered by workers’ compensation from the first day of employment. The law requires that most businesses have some form of workers’ compensation insurance to protect the interests of employees who are hurt on the job.
To be eligible to receive workers’ compensation, you need to be what is called “totally temporarily disabled” or “TTD.” This term means that you are not able to perform job in any way because of your injuries sustained due to the accident while on the job. This determination is normally made by a medical professional, and you will need to research your policy to verify eligibility requirements.
How Long Do I Need to be Out of Work?
As soon as an accident occurs, you should report the incident to your employer, either through a foreman, your supervisor or boss. By waiting too long, specifically more than 30 days, your claim could potentially be denied. You should be able to get compensation if you have been out of your work for more than seven working days. At that point, you are entitled to receive your weekly income benefits through your workers’ compensation policy.
The first payment should be expected approximately 15 days from the date of injury. However, you should not expect payment for the first week of lost time until you have been out of commission and unable to work for at least 21 days.
How Much Pay Should I Expect?
If you are temporarily totally disabled and not able to work, you should receive two-thirds of what your average weekly pay for the past 52 weeks was. You do not go off of your salary but what you actually received in those previous 52 weeks. However, you will be capped at an amount which can change annually, depending on your state’s laws.
Maximum Medical Improvement
Your claims will end when you reach the point of maximum medical improvement. It is at this point that a doctor, normally chosen by your workers’ compensation insurance policy, says that you have reached the level of improvement where you are as recovered as you will be. If you do not believe you are at that point, you can request an Independent Medical exam and appeal the determination.
Do I Receive Payment for Time Off for Medical Appointments?
You can still receive your normal wages if you are required to attend a medical appointment, the appointment is during your normal working hours, and you are not at the point where you are considered totally temporarily disabled.
Can I Be Fired for Not Working?
One of the biggest concerns employees have is whether they can be fired because they no longer can work. With most workers’ compensation policies, an employer cannot fire you for filing a claim under the company’s workers’ compensation policy.
However, many states have laws that allow employees to fire an employee at will for no reason. It is important you speak with a workers’ compensation attorney if you believe you have been discharged unfairly because of your work-related injury.
Contact an Attorney Today
An attorney trained in workers’ compensation law can help answer any questions you may have as well as help decide your best course of action for your claim Fill out the free evaluation form on this page to be connected with an attorney today.