Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation
In the more than 65 years that our firm has been serving employers in workers’ compensation cases, some questions have come up more often than others. For your convenience, we have compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions below. If you have further questions, please contact our office and we will be happy to answer them.
Are employers required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees?
Yes, employers must provide workers’ compensation insurance for all part-time and full-time employees. This applies to businesses of any size, from those with just one employee to thousands. This insurance can be provided via a third-party insurance company, or through self-insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance is not required, however, for business partners, corporate officers or sole proprietors.
What benefits are provided under workers’ compensation insurance?
For employees who suffer a work-related injury and qualify for workers’ compensation, the benefits they receive can include:
- Payments for medical expenses, including doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries and prescriptions
- Partial or total temporary disability
- Partial or total permanent disability
- Vocational training and rehabilitation benefits
- Death benefits for surviving family members if the employee’s injury is fatal
What are an employer’s responsibilities after a workers’ compensation claim is filed?
Because every workers’ compensation case starts with an injury or illness, an employer’s first responsibility is to help the injured employee obtain medical attention immediately if the injury is urgent. After the initial emergency is under control, the employer must file a “First Report of Injury” form and submit it to their insurance carrier or the workers’ compensation commission in your state.
After a workers’ compensation claim is filed, an investigation of the incident will likely follow – either by the injured employee’s attorney, your insurer or by the state workers’ compensation commission. As the investigation is conducted, the employer has a responsibility to cooperate and provide complete and timely information when requested.
Finally, an employer must respect the injured employee’s rights under the law, and refrain from engaging in discrimination or retaliatory action in response to filing a workers’ compensation claim.
What happens if a workplace injury was caused by a third party? Can the employer recover workers’ compensation costs from the responsible party?
Yes. Workers’ compensation law does recognize that not all workplace injuries are the fault of the employer. It is possible to recover the costs of a workers’ compensation claim through a process called subrogation. This process is complex, but a good rule of thumb is that your subrogation effort is more likely to be successful if you take action quickly, and maintain detailed and accurate records of the incident, which clearly demonstrate the negligence or malice of the responsible third party.
If a dispute arises between employer and employee over a workers’ compensation claim, how is this dispute resolved?
Workers’ compensation disputes are typically resolved through the state’s workers’ compensation commission. If the resolution of this process is not satisfactory to either party, the case be appealed to a panel of commissioners, and ultimately to the state’s broader court system.
What is the best legal strategy with which to respond to a workers’ compensation claim? How can an employer minimize the cost of a claim?
The best strategy varies greatly depending on the nature of the injury and the validity of the claim. The best way to choose an appropriate legal strategy is to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation defense attorney like those at Keefe & DePauli, P.C. In our first meeting, we will listen closely to the details of your case and will explain exactly how we can help you navigate the claims process quickly and effectively.