Workers who have been injured on the job will suddenly find themselves without a source of income to support themselves and their families. On top of that, significant medical bills will start rolling in as they get the treatments they need to recover. Fortunately, workers’ compensation is there to pay for injured workers’ medical bills and replace their lost income if they have been injured at their Washington, DC job.
But getting hurt on the job and following all of the required steps is no guarantee you will receive workers’ compensation. Many injured workers in Washington, DC have their workers’ compensation claims wrongfully denied by their employer or the insurance carrier. Who can you count on to fight for your legal rights after a workplace injury? Turn to Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation
Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation, a form of insurance designed to pay certain medical and wage loss benefits to employees who are hurt on the job. While many people think of workers’ compensation as covering only workers in labor-intensive jobs, like construction, any employee who is injured at work may qualify for this coverage.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system of insurance. That means the injured worker doesn’t have to prove that the employer was somehow responsible. For instance, a construction worker who fell because a section of scaffolding collapsed won’t have to establish that this happened because of the employer’s negligence. However, the injury must be job-related to qualify.
It’s also important to note that workers are usually not able to sue their employers after an accident. In exchange for giving up this right to sue, the worker may claim several workers’ compensation benefits.
What Benefits Are Provided By Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation may cover the following:
- Wage loss payments. If you become sick or injured because of a work-related incident, you may not be able to work for a while. You should have time to rest and recover from your injuries without worrying about how you’re going to pay your bills and provide for your family. An injured worker can receive wage loss payments to replace lost income.
- Permanent disability payments. If your injury is severe enough that you become permanently disabled, you may be able to receive additional compensation. These benefits may include permanent total or partial disability, depending on the circumstances. Cases like these can become complicated, so it’s important to have a skilled attorney by your side.
- Medical bills. Medical bills can easily add up to significant sums of money that your workers’ compensation is designed to cover. These include the cost of medical treatments, prescription drug medications, and special adaptive equipment like wheelchairs or crutches.
- Long-term medical costs. Future treatments may be necessary for your injury, possibly for the rest of your life. This is especially true concerning occupational diseases that workers develop in dangerous industries. Workers’ compensation may cover these expenses.
- Vocational rehabilitation. Some workers cannot return to their previous line of work due to their injuries. If your job requires special skills or physical labor, an injury may mean the end of your career. Vocational rehabilitation is intended to pay for job search expenses and training for a new profession.
- Death benefits. In the event the injured worker dies, workers’ compensation may provide death benefits to a surviving spouse and children. These include coverage for wage loss replacement (money the injured worker would have earned had they lived) and funeral and burial expenses.
What Do I Do After A Workplace Injury?
In Washington, D.C., an injured worker is required to provide written notice to his or her employer and the Office of Workers’ Compensation no later than 30 days after suffering a workplace injury. This notice is the first step toward receiving workers’ compensation and missing it could invalidate your case.
After reporting the injury, the worker must file the claim. This is done by filling out the Employee’s Claim Application within one year of the injury. While you have one year to file the claim, it’s advisable to do so as soon as possible so you can begin receiving benefits.
How Can A Washington, DC Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help Me?
It’s important to point out that retaining a workers’ compensation attorney doesn’t necessarily mean you plan to sue your employer or the insurance carrier. There are a few advantages, however, to speaking with a lawyer right away:
- Paperwork. Your attorney can assist with the necessary paperwork and make sure no deadlines are missed. Remember, missing a key deadline, failing to provide written notice, or failing to file for workers’ compensation could permanently jeopardize your ability to collect benefits.
- Help with a claim denial. Employers and insurance companies routinely deny legitimate workers’ compensation claims, often because they don’t believe the injured worker is aware of his or her rights. Neither your employer nor the insurance carrier necessarily has the final word, so speak with an attorney if your claim has been denied.
- Not enough compensation. There’s a good chance that even if the employer or insurance company accepts your claim, they will pay less than what it’s worth. If the compensation is too low, it won’t cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses, leaving you to make up the difference. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will work to make sure you are compensated fairly.
- Employer retaliation. If your employer threatens to or actually does fire you, demote you, or otherwise retaliate against you for filing workers’ compensation, our law firm can fight back. This is another example in which many employers assume their employees don’t know their rights and won’t speak up. Don’t let that happen to you.
Contact Our Washington, DC Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you’re ready to get started on your workers’ compensation claim, or you simply have questions, give Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP a call. We help injured workers in the Washington, D.C. area get the benefits they’re entitled to. Schedule your confidential consultation with us today.