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Each year, more than 4.1 million Americans workers are injured and may need to seek Worker Compensation for an occupational illness, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis or noise-induced hearing loss, that was caused by their job.
For more than 1 million people, these workplace injuries and illnesses are serious enough to warrent workers compensation for ongoing medical treatment or therapy. Thankfully, workers' compensation laws have been created in every state to protect employees who are hurt on the job and to provide treatment and benefits for them while they recover. Companies are required to carry worker's comp insurance by law to carry worker’s compensation insurance, even if they have only a few employees.
If you have been hurt at work or have been diagnosed with an occupational illness, you are entitled to workers’ compensation under the law. Benefits and rules vary by state, but generally workers are entitled to receive medical treatment and payment of medical expenses, as well as weekly payments while they’re unable to work. If the injury was serious enough to cause partial or total disability, workers also may be eligible for a lump-sum settlement payment for their work-related injury. Click here for more about how the workers’ compensation system works in various states.
While some professions, like construction and manufacturing, have higher rates of work-related injuries, any person in any profession could be hurt on the job. Sprains and strains are the most common types of work-related injuries, but back injuries, falls, lifting injuries, heavy equipment mishaps, automobile accidents, burns, toxic substances and musculoskeletal disorders are also frequent causes of workers’ compensation claims.
If you are hurt at work, it’s important to notify your employer, in writing, of the injury immediately. There may be forms that your state requires you to fill out to initiate a workers’ compensation claim, and an attorney can help you with that.
Remember, you cannot be denied medical treatment simply because you have filed a workers’ compensation claim. Medical treatment and payment for lost wages are your right, under the law.
Unlike most personal injury cases, you do not have to prove that your employer was at fault for your injury to collect workers’ compensation benefits. No matter who is at fault for your injury, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits as long as the injury or illness occurred at work or during the course of your regular job duties. That’s very important to remember.
In some cases, you may be able to collect additional benefits beyond workers’ compensation if someone other than your employer or a coworker caused your injury. For example, if you’re hurt because a piece of equipment malfunctions, you may be able to sue the equipment manufacturer. Or, if you’re injured in an automobile accident while at work, you may be able to collect from the other driver or the driver’s insurance company.
Beyond the physical pain, being hurt on the job can place a tremendous strain on the injured worker and his or her family. No one who is recovering from a debilitating injury or illness should have to deal with the added strain of worrying about medical bills or lost wages.