What is Worker’s Compensation?
Worker’s Compensation (or workman’s comp) is a crucial part of the stability of our modern day workplace. In California, without a good compensation program in place, worker’s could be left out in the cold after an injury incident.
Workplace Injury in California
If you are on the job 8 hours-a-day 5 days-a-week, there is a definite risk of getting hurt. After all, your job takes up the bulk of your day! Worker’s compensation is an overarching program that gives employees the right to covered medical care or financial relief.
A stronger definition: “Worker’s Comp is a form of insurance that provides compensation medical care for employees who are injured in the course of employment, in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence. While plans differ between jurisdictions, especially in California, provision can be made for weekly payments in place of wages (functioning in this case as a form of disability insurance), compensation for economic loss (past and future), reimbursement or payment of medical and like expenses (functioning in this case as a form of health insurance), and benefits payable to the dependents of workers killed during employment. General damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages for employer negligence, are generally not available in worker compensation plans.” – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers_compensation
For worker’s compensation to take effect, an injury or illness has to occur during the course of standard employment.
The Catch with Workman’s Comp
As you may have noticed in the above definition, employees are often waved of their right to sue for negligence when participating in a worker’s compensation program. This allows companies to protect themselves from larger more detrimental settlements.
Punitive damages, or those incidences caused by neglect and negligence of an employer, are generally not a part of worker’s compensation cases.
The Importance of State
When it comes to workman’s comp, every state has its own set of rules and statutes.
One of the first things you have to do when considering workman’s comp is recognizing which state you are legally working in. From their, it is critical to acquire a skilled personal injury lawyer familiar with your state’s system.
As with any form of insurance, companies will often try to find any and every reason not to pay you. Sometimes they may be correct under the letter of the law, but to get your fair chance at financial or medical relief you need to come prepared with a competent attorney. At the very least, have one look over the details of your case. Most good attorney’s will provide you with a free legal consultation.
How do I File a Worker's Compensation Claim
In my opinion, our justice system should not be abused by people who are just looking at to make a quick buck. However, there are times when people get injured and really deserve money for their injuries. I know because I was crippled on the job. I would be penniless today if not for my workers compensation settlement.
In my state, the worker's compensation commission is notoriously pro business. Those who are in charge of the commission avoid giving decent workers compensation settlements whenever they can. I was offered a pittance when a broken machine chopped off my hand. For my troubles, I was only offered $10,000 dollars and an early retirement.
The commission in charge of the settlement workers compensation in my state refused to even acknowledge the fact that my boss was negligent. After all, the factory I worked for did not have the necessary safety equipment. I had no choice but to hire a lawyer. I was a bit hesitant at first because I did not want the trouble of a lawsuit. However, it seemed like the only way that I had a chance of getting justice. Fortunately, it turned out that I was right. I never would have gotten a decent workers compensation settlement if I had not hired a job injury attorney.
It was a good thing that the juries tend to be pro-worker when I was trying to get a workers compensation settlement through the courts. The average members of a jury probably know what it is like to work under a negligent boss because they are usually taken from the working class. This means that they are more receptive to workers compensation settlement claims.
The opposing lawyers will usually try to scare you into settling out of court. They will argue that they are the best lawyers, which they are. Nevertheless, it is still possible to get a good workers compensation settlement through the courts, even if you are against very good lawyers.
You should not give in to whatever the industry bosses might say because you have a right to a workers compensation settlement for your injury. There is a good chance that you will get a settlement that is more generous than anything you would be offered if you have been wronged and you have a decent attorney. You have to make sure that you get a fair settlement if you choose to settle your claim outside of court.
Work Injury Claim - What Every Employee Should Know
If you are hurt on the job, your employer's insurance company may offer you a lump sum settlement. The insurance company is not required to do so but they may and then you must ask yourself whether you should take it or fight for more at trial. There are many factors, even above and beyond the actual amount, that go into answering that question. Before you accept a settlement from an insurance company, you should talk with an experienced attorney about the facts of your case and the best course of action for you.
Settlement offer amount- The amount isn't the only factor to consider in deciding whether to accept a settlement or go to trial, but it is extremely important. An experienced attorney can tell you if the amount offered is in the ballpark of fair and reasonable. Some of the things he will consider are whether the amount compensates you for the permanent nature of your injuries, whether it covers disputed medical bills or other medical costs and whether it compensates you for future lost wages, among other things. Also, you and your attorney will devise a game plan of perhaps a first negotiation for a higher amount and, if that fails, to proceed to trial.
Timing of receipt of settlement amount as opposed to trial - Even if there is a very good chance that you could win a higher amount at trial, settling now for a lesser amount might actually be the wiser decision for you, depending on your circumstances. Do you desperately need the money and can't wait for a trial? Has the whole ordeal been hard on your health and the stress of a trial could only make it worse?
Timing with respect to your health - It is extremely important to remember that you should never settle your case until you are at the healthiest you can be and don't currently need more treatment for your injury. You do not want to be in a situation where you settle only to learn that you need more treatment. You can't then go back to the insurance company. Once you settle, it's over. Illinois work injury attorneys know this standard for waiting until your treatment is complete. If it seems your attorney is not considering this but is making a decision based on what will get him paid quicker, find a new lawyer.
Chance of success at trial -Your attorney will consider your case and whether the disputed issues are likely to be resolved in your favor. What kind of evidence do you have? If it is solid, why not show it at trial? If it's not, is a trial too risky? Settlements are a guaranteed amount and closure to your situation. You can't appeal a settlement after you accept and receive the money. On the hand, a trial is risky - you could get a much higher amount or you could not. Your attorney should clearly explain to you his assessment of your chances at trial and a risk/reward analysis.
Future medical rights - As noted above, when you settle, there is no appeal. You sign a contract that has consequences your attorney should explain to you, such as the forfeit of all future medical rights for treatment related to your injury. This means that if your injury unexpectedly gets worse next year and you need major surgery, workers' compensation will not cover it. You signed a settlement and it's over. A new, different injury or accident in the future is a new unrelated matter but, as for your original injury, you won't be compensated if you need further treatment.
If, however, you go to trial and win, your future medical rights relating to your injury never cease. This means that if your injury unexpectedly gets worse next year or ten years later and you need major surgery, the insurance company will have to pay for it. So, you may not get a lump sum settlement but rather payment over time. Only you and your attorney know what the best option is for you.
Whether to settle or go to trial is not a simple decision but one that you and your experienced attorney must carefully assess to make sure you devise a strategy that best serves you.
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