According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an injury or illness is defined as a work-related injury if an event or exposure in the workplace either caused or contributed to the worker's current condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition. If you're asking the question, "What is it called when you get hurt at work?" — you've likely already experienced something like the OSHA definition and are looking for answers.
Fortunately, almost every state in the U.S. requires employers to carry worker's compensation insurance to cover medical and other expenses for workers hurt on the job. The insurance is purchased either through private insurance carriers or competitive state funds. Let's take a look at worker's compensation and the process required to receive benefits.
What do you get when you get hurt at work?
When you're a hard-working person just trying to get by, getting injured on the job can be a serious issue because it interferes with your ability to earn a paycheck. You could get injured by a single event, like breaking a bone from a fall over cardboard boxes or getting burned by a chemical. Or, you could become ill from repeated exposure to toxic substances or become hurt from repetitive actions that cause injury over time. You could even become injured psychologically from a high-stress position. Workers’ comp can cover some but not all stress-related injuries. Workers’ comp benefits can include the following:
Medical care - Your employer may pay for medical costs associated with your work-related injury or illness, which generally includes doctor's visits, surgery, therapy, and treatment, tests, medications, special medical equipment, and travel costs to and from treatment.
Temporary disability benefits - These benefits cover your lost pay partially if you cannot perform your regular job duties during your recovery.
Permanent disability benefits - If you don't recover fully and your injury causes you to lose physical or mental function permanently, these benefits will return a portion of the payment you should have been able to earn.
Supplemental job displacement benefits - These are vouchers you can use to help cover the costs of retraining or to enhance current skills if you are eligible to get permanent disability benefits, your employer does not offer you work, and you do not return to work for the employer where you were injured. This benefit is only available to workers who were injured in 2004 or later. Suppose you were injured in 2013 or later, and you took advantage of the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit. In that case, you may also be eligible for an additional one-time payment because of the Return-to-Work Supplement Program.
Death benefits - This is payment to a deceased worker's spouse, children, or other dependents should the worker die from a job injury or illness.
What should I do immediately after being hurt at work or developing a work-related illness?
Report your injury to a supervisor as quickly as possible. Likewise, if you've discovered you've developed an illness you believe to be work-related, report it as soon as you can. Quickly reporting work-related harm helps to avoid problems and delays in receiving benefits, including medical care. The timeframe for reporting varies from state to state. Still, some have as little as a three-day deadline for reporting your injury to your employer. The deadline to file for worker's compensation benefits also varies widely depending on the state you live in, ranging from just six months to 12 years for occupational illnesses.
Failure to report your injury or illness immediately typically results in denial or workers' compensation benefits. However, one of our worker's compensation lawyers may be able to help should you be denied because of delayed reporting. Certain circumstances can override deadlines, and we just have to identify them in your state's laws.