Every day, workers like you clock in to begin a day’s work. While on most days, an entire shift can be uneventful, there are times when you’ll be having more than just a bad day. You might experience a slip and fall accident in the restroom or get hurt from faulty machinery. Over time, you may get sick from constant exposure to workplace hazards such as loud noises, dangerous chemicals, or repetitive tasks.
While some work-related injuries and illnesses go away after a few days, others may leave long-lasting impacts on your health and employment. You may find it challenging to pay your medical bills or provide for your family’s needs. You can rely on the workers’ compensation fund to cover work-related accidents and illnesses if this happens.
Yet how can you know if you’re eligible and how much you can claim? Read on to understand how the workers’ compensation fund works and how it can help you when you’re sick or injured on the job.
The Basics Of Workers’ Compensation Fund
In most cases, workers’ compensation funds are available to salaried individuals working in public and private companies. States often dictate eligibility, so it’s best to know if your profession is covered or not.
The US Department of Labor funds the Federal Employees’ Compensation Program. This initiative covers illnesses that occur due to workplace accidents and occupational ailments.
Likewise, federal programs such as the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Program, Federal Black Lung Program, and Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program cover industry-specific occupational diseases.
Current legislation also covers victims of the 9/11 attacks through the WTC Victim Compensation Fund. Affected employees and their families can file their respective claims at WTC Victim Fund or any applicable federal compensation programs following a workers’ compensation claims process.
2. Funding Sources
You may remember someone from HR mentioning workers’ compensation and how these payments help cover work-related accidents or illnesses. Yet they probably didn’t tell you to whom they pay premiums.
Well, this depends on where you work. If you work in North Dakota, Ohio, Washington, or Wyoming, a state fund handles workers’ compensation. If you work in California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Utah, your employer can either buy from the state or a private insurer.
Knowing the source of workers’ compensation funds is crucial because it will affect how you file claims and receive benefits.
You can claim from a state, federal, or private workers’ compensation fund as long as your injury or illness is work-related. These include sudden slip and fall, machine injury, and occupational illness and injuries that develop over time. In addition, it also covers black lung disease, hearing loss, certain cancers, and even COVID-19.
You may need to support your claim with medical documentation. Hospital records, medical diagnoses, and even scientific studies can help you secure an approved claim. These types of evidence are beneficial for proving that workplace hazards caused your illness.
4. Claims Process
You’ll need to file a claim to become eligible for workers’ compensation funding. This process often begins with reporting your workplace injury or illness as soon as possible. Once you notify your employer, they will assist you in filing a claim to the state workers’ compensation board or through your private insurer.
A detailed report and adequate documentation can result in approval. The approval allows you to claim hospitalization or rehabilitation benefits until you fully recover. You can also obtain a portion of your lost wages through a weekly allotment or as a lump sum benefit.
5. When To Seek Legal Help
Although access to the workers’ compensation fund seems straightforward, there are some instances when you’ll need a legal expert by your side.
You can contact a workers’ compensation lawyer when you encounter challenges during and after filing a claim. Employer retaliation, workers’ compensation denial, or settlement disputes are situations where a lawyer can be helpful.
You may also need to consult a lawyer if you feel that you deserve additional compensation for your work-related injury or illness. If you believe that a third party’s negligence caused your condition or if you want to claim for non-economic damages, a personal injury lawyer can build a strong case and help you receive more than what the workers’ compensation fund gives you.
In summary, the workers’ compensation fund ensures that injured or sick workers like you can receive benefits to cover medical costs and lost wages. Although states differ in funding sources, salaried employees are eligible for sudden injuries or an occupational illness that develops over time. Well-funded programs also ensure workers in specific industries receive adequate compensation.
No matter where you work and what condition you experience, a well-supported claim, along with the assistance of your employer and legal experts, can help you obtain the compensation that you truly deserve.