If you are a police officer, firefighter, teacher, or another state employee injured on the job, it can be tricky to know the benefits to which you are entitled. State employees generally have the right to receive workers’ comp payments for work-related injuries and illnesses, depending on the applicable state workers’ compensation laws.
However, the rules and regulations that apply to public employees can be complex. Consulting a seasoned lawyer can help to smooth the process of receiving workers’ comp benefits. Morgan & Morgan’s experienced workers’ compensation lawyers are determined to help injured state workers receive the benefits and compensation they deserve.
For over three decades, we have fought hard for our injured clients, winning over $15 billion in damages. We could help you understand the steps required to file a claim with your state, allowing you to receive what you need to pay your medical bills and living expenses. Contact us today for a free case review to explore your legal options.
Common State Worker Occupations
While state and local government employees carry out many different duties and hold a variety of positions, the most common professions include the following:
- Teachers and school support staff
- Police officers
- Correctional officers
- Healthcare professionals at public medical centers
- Higher education staff
- Public transportation workers such as bus and train drivers
- Road maintenance workers
State employees are also employed in public welfare, judicial and legal services, financial administration, environmental resources, and other departments.
Occupational Risks State Workers Face
State employees, such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, and others, can face work-related risks to their physical and emotional health. Examples of work accidents that may qualify state workers for workers’ comp benefits include:
- Getting struck by an object
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Slips and falls
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Dangerous or malfunctioning equipment
However, workers’ compensation not only offers benefits for acute injuries from accidents but also compensates workers for loss of wages and medical costs from occupational health conditions.
Injuries Generally Covered by Workers’ Comp
While some work injuries, such as fractures and lacerations, can occur in accidents, other occupational illnesses manifest over several years, such as repetitive strain injuries, back problems, and mental health issues. Workers’ compensation generally covers all significant work-related injuries, including but not limited to:
- Overexertion injuries such as repetitive strain
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- Illnesses due to toxic substances, such as asbestos
- Head and brain injuries
- Loss of hearing
- Bone fractures
- Loss of a limb
- Internal injuries
You may also receive workers’ comp for work-related psychological disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and others.
As a state employee, such as a firefighter or police officer, you deserve adequate compensation for work-related injuries and conditions. However, depending on your state, the timelines to file a claim can be tight. Therefore, protect your rights by immediately reporting a work injury to your human resources department or supervisor, even if it seems minor.
Government Workers’ Compensation Laws
While state workers’ compensation laws can vary between states, local and state government employees generally qualify for benefits when they get hurt on the job. According to the US Department of Labor (DoL), individuals injured on the job while employed by state and local government agencies must liaise with their specific state workers' compensation board to determine the benefits for which they qualify.
However, some state employees with work-related injuries face initial workers’ compensation claims denials and need help obtaining the payments they deserve. If you struggle to get your claim approved, or have had a valid claim denied, a workers’ compensation lawyer at Morgan & Morgan can help. We can assert your rights, appeal against a denial, and fight for the benefits you need to manage your life after experiencing a work-related injury.
Benefits Available to State Workers
Experiencing a significant work injury can change your life. Fortunately, as a state worker, you are generally entitled to benefits. You could receive income payments for a temporary or permanent disability until you are fit to return to work. If you are permanently and totally disabled, you could receive workers’ comp payments until retirement age or for the rest of your life. While the details vary slightly from state to state, benefits generally include:
State workers are generally entitled to all necessary medical expenses to treat work-related injuries or conditions, such as hospitalization, surgeries, diagnostic testing, and others. While you can usually choose your doctor, you may have to authorize a new attending physician with your state’s workers’ comp program.
Wage Replacement Payments
Like employees in the private sector, injured state employees generally qualify for wage replacement benefits. Moreover, in some jurisdictions, state employees are entitled to additional benefits under their state’s workers’ compensation laws. While private sector employees can typically only recover around two-thirds of their regular weekly income, state workers may be entitled to full pay with their relevant workers’ compensation program.
You could also receive wage replacement payments if you can only work in a reduced capacity and can no longer work in your previous job.
Hazardous Duty State Employees
In some states, workers classified as hazardous duty employees enjoy special protection under their state workers’ compensation laws. Employees may collect 100 percent of their wages if they are totally disabled. Hazardous duty state employees can include, among others:
- State law enforcement and corrections officers
- Environmental and public works officers
- Motor vehicle workers
- Mental health workers
Permanent Disability Lump Sum
State employees suffering a job-related permanent disability, such as loss of a limb, could be entitled to a cash settlement with a state workers’ comp claim.
Some states help employees who have to change jobs or retrain after getting hurt. Such vocational benefits may include:
- Training and education expenses
- Placement services
- Vocational counseling
Death Benefits for the Surviving Family
If your loved one died while working for the state, you could receive specific survivors’ benefits, such as burial and funeral expenses and cash payments for the spouse and dependents.
Filing a state workers’ compensation claim can be complicated. However, with a tenacious workers’ compensation lawyer in your corner, you are free to concentrate on your recovery. Our attorneys can help you understand state workers’ compensation laws and fight for the benefits you need.
You Could File a Lawsuit and Recover Compensation
Unlike the federal government, state governments and agencies are not immune from public employer liability. Therefore, if you got hurt due to an act of violence or gross negligence by your state employer, you could sue them and pursue compensation. Likewise, if a third party caused your work-related injuries, such as a property owner or contractor, you could file a lawsuit and seek damages.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit can allow state workers to obtain non-economic and other damages that are unavailable with workers’ compensation, such as:
- Physical pain and anguish
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Punitive damages
You do not have to figure all this out on your own. Our workers’ compensation lawyers can analyze your work accident, determine who is responsible, and walk you through all your options for recovering what you deserve.
What to Do After an Accident at Work
If you are injured at work, you must act immediately. In most states, you only have limited time to file a claim. Your next best steps include:
- Immediately report the injury or work-related condition to your supervisor
- Getting medical help and documenting your injuries
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
Failing to report your injury or disease and file a claim in time could be detrimental to your case and jeopardize your benefits. If you do not know where to turn after getting hurt at work, Morgan & Morgan has your back. Our workers’ compensation lawyers can guide you through the claims process.
Morgan & Morgan Helps State Workers
Our dedicated attorneys are here to help you if you are a state worker having trouble getting the workers’ compensation benefits you and your family deserve. We can assist you in the following ways and others:
- Help you learn about your legal rights
- Analyze your specific situation and determine your options
- Proving that your condition or injury is work-related
- Helping you receive a fair impairment rating
- Identify all benefits due to you
- Appeal a denied claim
- Represent you in hearings in front of an Administrative Judge
- Determine if you qualify for other benefits, such as Social Security Disability
Moreover, Morgan & Morgan works on a “no-win-no-fee” basis, so you do not have to worry about out-of-pocket expenses when we fight your workers’ comp case.