In every state of the U.S employers are required to provide their employees with reasonably safe and healthy work environments. However, there are occasions where employers fail to fulfill this duty, and employees are injured as a result. There are also instances where employees can still be injured on the job even when every effort has been made to make a workplace safe. These injuries may include everything from broken bones, aggravations of pre-existing conditions, occupational illnesses, and even psychological injuries. Every state provides some kind of system to assist employees when it comes with work-related injuries. Read on to learn more about how you can protect your rights if you are injured on the job.
The most important way, and also the easiest way, to protect your legal rights is to report your injury to your employer. The majority of states will stipulate that you report your injury within a certain period of time, typically the same day or within a couple days of the incident. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, this may not always be possible, but it is still key to report the injury as quickly as is practical. The next step that you can take to protect your rights is to file a claim with the workers’ compensation court or with the industrial court of your state. This will give formal notice of your injury with your employer, the court, and your employer’s insurance company. After your claim is filed, certain automatic protections are immediately put in place.
What Your Rights Are
Workers’ compensation laws vary across a wide range depending on the state. The rights that an injured employee is afforded also varies widely, including the different legal procedures that ensure those rights. In general, however, there are a number of legal rights that are common across the majority of states:
- The right to file a claim for your injury or illness in workers compensation court or the state industrial court
- You possess the right to visit a doctor and to pursue medical treatment
- If you are released to return to work by your physician, they you have the right to return to your job
- If you are unable to go back to work due to your injury or illness, whether permanently or even temporarily, you have the right to some type of disability compensation.
- If you disagree with any decision by your employer, the employer’s insurance company, or the workers’ compensation court, they you usually have the right to appeal that decision, and you also possess the right to be represented by an attorney throughout the whole process.
It’s just as important to understand your right to REFUSE certain requests or offers as it is to understand your rights to ACT. This means that if you are injured and your employer encourages you to use your own health insurance to pay for your medical treatment, then you possess the right to refuse. If your boss offers you some incentive to try and persuade you from filing a workers compensation claim, it is an illegal act and you have the right to refuse. In every state, you are able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim without fear of reprisal or harassment from your employer. If your employer makes it difficult for you to freely exercise these rights, then the penalties which are imposed upon the employer can be pretty severe. It is illegal for your boss or supervisor to harass you at work, or to otherwise make it difficult for you to do your job, if their behavior is motivated by your filing of a workers compensation claim.
If you are seeking legal counsel on a workers compensation case, call Thompson & Thomas PA today for a free initial consultation.