How to Claim Your Workers’ Compensation

Work-related injuries can be a life-changing event at worst, or a massive nuisance at best. Either way, getting hurt at your place of employment complicates things both for you as an employee, and your employer.

Unforeseen medical expenses caused by such injuries sometimes exceed personal health insurance policies, leaving workers with a ton of medical bills and very few options on the table. Things can only get worse if the employer refuses to compensate the employee for their injuries.

However, there are mechanisms in place that can help you deal with the financial havoc that comes after the injury. You, as an employee who got hurt while performing your duties at work, are most likely eligible to claim worker’s compensation. Here’s how.

What Exactly is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance policy that gives employees all across the country a safety net should they get hurt at work. It’s a compulsory form of insurance in most states, although some places require the worker to self insure. The history of workers’ compensation is quite extensive, reaching back to the 1800s. That being said, this type of protection has existed in some shape or form since ancient times.

Compensation in the US is regulated on the state and federal level. Each state has its own legislation that covers the allocation of workers’ comp. Some states have simplified the process of making a claim, while some have a rather complicated procedure in place. Kentucky is one such state where the process is rather complex.

Specialized attorneys over warn that it’s not uncommon for workers’ comp carriers to offer much less than what the claimant is owed. Because of that, it’s highly recommended that you get yourself familiarized with your state’s laws regarding workers’ rights.

Understanding the Limits of Workers’ Compensation

Just like any other form of insurance, the compensation plan that covers work-related injuries is subject to a set of strict rules. Each state defines what is and isn’t a work-related injury. For example, if you got yourself hurt while operating heavy machinery at work, by no fault of your own, you’re covered by the policy.

However, if you have broken your hand fighting with another employee or you got injured while goofing around at your job site, you’re most likely not eligible to file a claim. It’s also important to understand that going to and from work is often not covered by the comp policy.

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

The process of filing a claim includes these steps:

  • Notify your employer of your injury

  • The employer needs to file a claim

  • The insurer approves the claim

This process might be different if you’re a federal employee as federal employees are governed by a specialized office within the US Department of Labor.

Notifying Your Employer of Your Injury

In an unfortunate event that you get hurt while performing your duties, make sure to immediately notify the employer. There is an actual deadline by which you must submit a written note of injury to your employer, and it’s often up to 30 days.

Failing to submit a written note within this timeframe may prevent you from realizing the claim. Once the employer receives the note, they will give you all the necessary forms for you to fill out.

Employer Submits the Claim

As mentioned before, worker’s compensation policies are compulsory in most states and are handled by the employer. Because of that, it’s the employer who submits the claim with the insurer.

Sometimes the employee will have to visit a select doctor who will then submit his findings to the insurer as a part of the claim.

The Claim is Approved or Denied by the Insurer

Once all the paperwork has been submitted to the insurer, they will go over the claim and decide whether to approve or deny it. In case that the sum offered isn’t covering your medical bills and missed wages, you are not obliged to accept it.

Although it adds to the complexity of the process, you can take the matter to court in an attempt to get a better settlement. That being said, it’s highly recommended that you consult with an attorney before taking any legal action.

Get What You’re Owed

Workers’ compensation is a lifesaver in most cases. Whether you just slipped on ice or you received a more serious injury at work, you are most likely eligible to file a claim and receive compensation.

If you’re not sure who your workers’ comp insurer is, or what plan you’re on, ask your employer. It’s much better to understand the extent and limits of your policy before you need it.