Being hurt, injured, or becoming ill due to work can be scary. Many thoughts may run through your head, like how you and your family will get by if you miss work, and even worse, how are you going to pay your medical bills on top of everything else? It can be a very stressful time dealing with your injury or being sick while worrying about the future.
The good news is, if you are eligible for workers compensation, you may be able to get help for your lost wages and medical bills. So how do you know if you are eligible for these benefits? There are some requirements you will have to meet to receive assistance from workers comp. Let’s take a look at them.
- You must be an employee. Each state is different, so you will need to be classified as an actual employee of the company or if you are considered an independent contractor or working for a sub-contractor. If you are full-time or part-time, or expected to work certain hours at a specific location set by the company and taxes are taken from your paycheck, you are most likely classified as an employee.
- Your employer must be insured. Typically, if a company or business has employees, it must carry workers compensation insurance by law. If your employer is not covered for some reason, you will likely have to file a lawsuit to receive any assistance in your financial recovery.
- Your injury or illness must be directly related to your place of employment. If there is an accident on the job and deemed not to be a result of any misconduct on the part of the employee, it is covered by workers comp. This includes injuries caused by long term use or repetitive movement such as heavy lifting or typing on a keyboard. Illnesses are also covered if they directly result from the workplace, such as exposure to asbestos or other hazardous materials causing mesothelioma or asthma.
Consistent loud noise, which may result in hearing loss, may be covered as well. Recently, injuries linked to emotional or mental stress have been ruled to fall under the workers comp umbrella.
- You must meet your reporting deadlines. It is a good rule of thumb to report an illness or injury on the job sooner rather than later and in writing vs. verbally. Every state is different when it comes to its allotted time frame to file a claim, so be sure you know yours and follow it. Your first deadline is informing your employer of the incident; this requirement could be as little as 3 days, so be sure you report it as soon as possible and in writing.
Be sure to specify your accident or injury’s date and location or when you first noticed signs of illness or aches. Your next deadline will be filing your claim. Most states allow up to 1 year (12 months) from the time of your incident or illness. Some allow longer but again, check your specific state requirements.
Regardless of the injury or illness, it is important that you be proactive with your claim. Take notes or journal events, save receipts, take pictures if applicable, be diligent, and stay in front of the process. It may seem overwhelming or exhausting, but it will be worth it.
To find out if you are eligible for workers compensation, contact our office today for a free consultation.