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Frequently Asked Questions

What is workers’ compensation insurance?

Workers’ compensation is an often mandatory insurance plan for employers that will cover your expenses if you experience a work-related injury, regardless of fault. In exchange, you give up your right to sue your employer.

If you’re hurt on the job, workers’ compensation generally covers four kinds of expenses:

  • Medical bills
  • Wages missed while injured
  • Permanent impairment benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation training (if your injury renders you unable to continue in your job)

Workers’ compensation operates on a state-by-state basis, and specific laws vary by jurisdiction. Our workers’ compensation attorneys will help you determine your rightful benefits. Contact us for free today.

What should I do if I was injured at work?

Act quickly and follow a three-step plan:

  • Report the injury to your supervisor as soon as possible.
  • Ask to see a medical professional. Be sure to tell your doctor you were injured at work.
  • Complete a workers’ compensation claim form.

Until you report your injury and file the claim form, your employer is under no obligation to make sure you receive your benefits. There is a time limit for filing a claim, so don't wait too long to report, because you could miss out on benefits entirely. This statute of limitations varies by state so contact your state’s workers’ compensation office or one of our attorneys to determine the time limit for your home state.

Do I have to use the physician my employer chooses?

It depends. In some states, you may go to a doctor of your choosing for your initial visit. In others, you must see a doctor from your employer’s approved list (except in cases of emergency). If you want to request a change of physician, it again depends on your state.

In some cases, the workers’ compensation insurance agency may require that you undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME) conducted by a doctor of its choice. This is a red flag for you to contact a Morgan & Morgan attorney immediately.

Contrary to their name, IMEs are rarely truly objective. Insurance companies often require an IME when there’s a dispute about your treatment, and when they don’t like the diagnosis determined by your regular doctor. Doctors on companies’ approved lists for IMEs have often proved to give diagnoses favorable to the insurance company. In some states, you may be able to challenge the IME report and see a physician of your choosing. Our workers’ compensation attorneys will fight for you to get a fair diagnosis.

How long will I receive workers’ compensation benefits?

The length of time that you will receive benefits depends on the state you live in and your type of injury.

There are four different injury classifications:

  • Temporary Total Disability — you are temporarily completely unable to work.
  • Temporary Partial Disability — you are able to work, but temporarily not at full capacity.
  • Permanent Total Disability — you are completely and permanently unable to work.
  • Permanent Partial Disability — part of your wage-earning capacity has been permanently lost.

Your compensation is awarded on a weekly basis. The number of weeks depends on your classification and your state, but most time limits fall between three and seven years. If you are permanently disabled, your benefits will generally never run out, though certain states have exceptions.

Are workers’ compensation benefits subject to tax?

Usually not, but if you are receiving supplementary income - such as Social Security benefits - in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits, you may have to pay taxes.

In this situation, your Social Security benefits would be reduced and your workers’ compensation benefits would make up the difference. That difference is then treated as Social Security, which means it would be taxable.

How do I know if I’m covered under workers’ compensation?

There are three basic eligibility requirements in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Your employer is covered by workers’ compensation insurance: The vast majority of employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation coverage, but there are some exceptions. These exceptions vary by state and usually take into account the number of employees working for the employer, the type of business, and the type of work the employees are doing.

You are considered an employee: Not all workers are considered equal under workers’ compensation laws. Independent contractors are not considered employees, and will not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Common examples of workers who are considered independent contractors are freelancers, consultants, and some IT professionals.

Your injury is work-related: In most cases, this is straightforward. But not always. Say you’re injured on your lunch break, but while fetching a sandwich for your boss. Certain cases require professional analysis.

Can I still receive workers’ compensation benefits if I return to work?

Yes, in most cases, though there may be some changes.

First things first. Be certain to notify your attorney, employer, and insurer when you return to work. Failure to notify may result in serious issues with your right to benefits.

Your new wages may affect the benefits that you receive. If you earn equal or more than before your injury, it is likely that your benefits will cease. However, if you continue to occasionally miss days at work or your earning power remains reduced due to your injury, you may continue to receive benefits. This will vary by state. In addition, most states provide wage-loss benefits, which are based on a percentage that is calculated using your pre- and post-injury earnings.

Remember that in most cases you can still file for workers’ compensation benefits after you’ve returned to work. Be sure to keep careful records of your pay stubs and time lost at work.

I’m scared my employer will retaliate if I file a workers’ compensation claim.

In an effort to avoid increased insurance costs or direct payments, employers may frown upon injured employees, or even attempt to retaliate with blatant discrimination. Actions considered employer retaliation include demotion, pay cuts, and uncalled-for disciplinary actions, and are illegal.

If you’ve experienced discrimination linked to your pursuit of your rights, you may have a right to bring legal action against your employer.

State laws vary, but in order to win a workers’ compensation retaliation case, you’ll generally need to prove the following:

  • You were an employee entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
  • You exercised a right guaranteed by workers’ compensation laws.
  • You were discriminated against because you sought of your rightful benefits.

If you think you have grounds for suing your employer for retaliation, it is critical that you contact an attorney. Don’t wait — most states require that retaliation charges be filed promptly, sometimes within a period of only a few weeks.

What do I do if my claim is denied?

A denial letter is not a closed case—you have the right to challenge and appeal the denial.

Your first step is to contact a lawyer—and fast. The process for filing an appeal varies by state and can become complicated. Read your letter carefully and note the deadline for filing an appeal. These deadlines are often short and strict, so it’s critical that you get in touch with a workers’ compensation attorney promptly to ensure that you don’t miss your chance for an appeal.