While those working in construction, warehousing, or manufacturing can be at a higher risk of suffering severe work injuries, anyone can potentially get harmed on the job. If you got hurt, you might wonder, “What happens if I injure myself at work?” The good news is that workers’ compensation is generally available for injured workers. You could be entitled to benefits such as medical care, payments for lost income, and others.
However, getting what you deserve with a workers’ compensation claim is not always straightforward. An insurer or employer could sabotage your claim and reduce or even deny your rightful benefits. Moreover, if you were misclassified as an independent contractor, you could be out of luck and unable to receive any workers’ compensation.
Morgan & Morgan fights for the injured. We want you to get what you need to put your life back together after an occupational injury. Our experienced employment attorneys can appeal a denied workers’ comp claim, file a lawsuit on your behalf, and fight tooth and nail for what you deserve. Contact us today for a free case review to discover your options.
What Qualifies as a Work Injury?
Generally, a work injury includes any injury you experienced at work or in work-related activities. Workers’ comp covers most injuries and illnesses resulting from work events, equipment, and materials. Work activities can include any meetings, business trips, and social gatherings your employer requires you to attend, even if away from your regular workplace.
Common Workplace Accidents and Injuries
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the most common causes of workplace accidents and injuries in 2019 included:
- Slips and falls
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Getting struck by an object
- Violence by persons or animals
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Fires and explosions
Most accidents and injuries at work qualify employees for certain benefits under the no-fault workers’ compensation program.
You Could Be Eligible for Workers’ Compensation
The main criteria for determining whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation include:
- You are a regular employee
- Your employer has workers’ compensation insurance
- You were hurt at work or as a result of job-related duties
Workers’ compensation is generally only available for those who are official “employees” and not those working as independent contractors.
Are You Misclassified as an Independent Contractor?
Unfortunately, misclassifying employees is common. According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), 10-30 percent of American employees, the equivalent of several million workers, may be misclassified as independent contractors. Employers illegally misclassify workers to save on costly workers’ compensation contributions and payroll taxes.
Misclassification deprives employees of workers’ compensation benefits and many other crucial rights and protections, such as:
- Minimum wage
- Overtime pay
- The right to collective bargaining
- Unemployment benefits
If you believe an employer misclassified you, consider filing a report with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and speaking to one of our employment lawyers. You could be entitled to back pay, lost benefits, and other damages. Our lawyers could hold an unethical employer accountable and help you get what you deserve.
Accidents That May Not Qualify for Workers’ Compensation
Some incidents and injuries may not be covered by workers’ comp, including:
- Accidents that happen during lunch hour or on the commute to and from work
- Injuries due to alcohol or drug consumption
- Self-inflicted injuries
- Pre-existing conditions
- Accidents caused by horseplay or fighting
- Emotional or mental stress unless resulting from your work and interfering with your ability to perform your job
- Injuries incurred while violating company policies or committing a crime
Knowing whether or not your injury qualifies for workers’ compensation can be tricky as there are gray areas. For example, if your injury happened outside your workplace, such as in the parking lot, your case may be complicated, but you could still be entitled to workers’ compensation.
If you wonder what happens if you injure yourself at work, Morgan & Morgan can help. Our experienced workers’ comp attorneys can assess your accident and injury, determine whether you are entitled to benefits, and help you move forward with a claim.
Your Best Steps After Injuring Yourself at Work
Report an occupational injury to your employer immediately. If there is a significant delay between your injury and filing a workers’ compensation claim, the insurance provider could use this as an excuse to make it unnecessarily difficult for you to obtain workers’ comp benefits. They may even deny your claim altogether. After suffering a work injury, your next best steps include:
- Promptly report the accident and injury to your employer or supervisor
- Seek medical help as soon as possible after the accident
- File a workers’ compensation claim if you are eligible
- Contact an attorney to determine all avenues for compensation
If you get hurt at work and your situation is complicated, or you are unsure what to do next, Morgan & Morgan is in your corner. We could help you file a workers’ comp claim, appeal a denial, and determine other ways to seek compensation.
Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim After a Work Injury
The workers’ compensation claims process can differ slightly from one state to another. However, the general steps of filing a workers’ comp claim include:
- Notifying the employer and completing the necessary documents for filing a claim
- Receiving medical help and undergoing an independent medical examination
- Waiting for the insurance company to determine benefits (typically 4-6 weeks)
The timeline for filing a workers’ compensation claim can be a year or less, depending on where you live. Therefore, you should file a workers’ comp claim as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, workers’ comp claim denials are not uncommon. Reasons for denials can include a missed filing deadline, lack of medical evidence, and others. Receiving a denial notice can be upsetting. However, if this happens to you, do not despair. An experienced workers’ comp attorney from Morgan & Morgan can help you navigate the appeals process, represent you in hearings, and gather the medical evidence required.
Benefits for Injured Workers
Workers’ compensation benefits can reimburse injured employees for medical costs, wage losses, and other injury-related expenses. Benefits can include:
Wage Replacement Payments
If you need time off work to recover from a work injury, you could be entitled to various income replacement benefits, depending on the scope of your injuries. While benefits differ depending on the state, workers are generally entitled to:
- Temporary disability benefits
- Long-term or lifetime disability benefits
- Supplemental income if you can only work in a reduced capacity
How much you receive will depend on several factors, such as your weekly wage, whether you can return to work, and the severity of your injuries. However, in most states, you could receive two-thirds of your average weekly salary in workers' comp benefits up to a certain cap.
Workers’ compensation generally pays for all your medical expenses connected to a work injury, which can include hospital stays, medications, medical devices, and ongoing care.
Employee death benefits can vary by state. However, most states offer some compensation to the surviving family of a worker. Spouses and dependents are generally eligible for death benefits, such as burial expenses and cash payments up to two-thirds of the deceased worker’s weekly wage.
How Morgan & Morgan Can Help Injured Workers
When you get severely hurt at work, you need an advocate to help you discover all options for recovering the compensation you truly deserve. Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be the first and best option for workers. However, if you are an independent contractor or your employer was uninsured, filing a personal injury lawsuit could be crucial for getting fair compensation.
Morgan & Morgan can be by your side whether you need help with a complex workers’ comp claim or want to sue those responsible for your injury. Our dedicated employment attorneys can:
- Assist you in obtaining appropriate medical treatment
- Identify all your options for recovering compensation
- Gather and organize the required medical evidence for your claim
- Communicate with your workers' compensation insurance company
- Help you receive a fair impairment rating
- Represent and coach you for workers' comp appeal hearings
- File a personal injury lawsuit, if appropriate
Our attorneys leave no stone unturned in getting justice and compensation for America’s injured workers. We want to help you receive what you deserve after an occupational injury so you can move forward with your life and provide for yourself and your loved ones.