Workers’ compensation is insurance that provides cash or medical care benefits for workers who are injured or become ill as a direct result of their job. Employers must pay for this insurance, and may not require the employee to contribute to any cost necessary for compensation. Weekly benefits such as monetary payments and medical care are given by the employer’s insurance carrier, as directed by the Workers’ Compensation Board, a state agency that processes the claims.
It is not enough to just have insurance as an employer. It is the employer’s responsibility to also provide immediate emergency medical treatment for employees who are injured on the job. They must complete a full report of the injury, with the injured worker’s review and mail it to the nearest workers’ compensation board office within a timely manner.
A claim is paid if the employer or insurance carrier agrees that the injury or illness is work-related. If the employer or insurance carrier disputes the claim, no cash benefits are paid until the workers’ compensation law judge decides who is right. If a worker is not receiving benefits because the employer or insurance carrier is arguing that the injury is not job-related, he or she may be eligible for disability benefits in the meantime. Any payments made under the Disability Program, however, will be deducted from future workers’ compensation awards.
In a workers’ compensation case, neither party is determined to be “at fault”. The amount that a worker receives is not decreased by perceived carelessness, nor increased by an employer’s fault. Although workers’ compensation laws provide treatment to injured employees, they are also meant to protect employers, as they are designed to be the only remedy that injured employees may seek from their employers. One may find that an employer frowns upon employees who file workers’ compensation benefit claims, and some blatantly discriminate against such employees.
Most states prohibit employers from punishing, discriminating against, or discharging employees who exercise their rights under workers’ compensation laws, and allow employees to bring civil actions against their employers for the tort of “retaliatory discharge.”
It is of the business owners best interest to comply with the rules and regulations set forth by the Workers’ Compensation Board. Failure to do so could easily result in further fees, punishments or even lawsuits.
If you or someone you know has been injured at work or is dealing with a workers’ compensation case, call Losi & Gangi at 716-854-1446 and speak with one of our experienced attorneys.
This article has been adapted from information gathered from other sources including http://www.wcb.ny.gov/.