Workers Compensation Information
If you are injured on the job, you are entitled to compensation, regardless of who is at fault. Worker's compensation laws require that your employer compensate you if you are injured in the course of your employment. Unlike other personal injury situations, you will not have to prove that your employer caused your injury. This makes recovering money from your employer much easier. Since recovering money is easier under the worker's compensation process, you will not be permitted to recover as much money as you would in the typical personal injury lawsuit.
In order to take advantage of worker's compensation laws, you must be an employee (not an independent contractor), and your injury must have occurred during the course of your employment. If you are injured on the job, your employer will pay for your medical expenses, and you will receive some percentage (usually one half to two thirds) of your wages while you are unable to work. In exchange for these guaranteed payments you will not be able to sue your employer. You may, however, still sue any third party who may have negligently contributed to, or caused, your injury.
For instance, if an employee of Acme Company is injured while driving an Acme delivery truck, the employee is automatically eligible for worker's compensation benefits. However, while the employee cannot sue Acme (because the employee already was paid by worker's compensation) he may be able to sue the manufacturer of the delivery truck. That is, if there was a problem with the truck (faulty brakes, for instance) the employee may be able to sue the manufacturer if the manufacturer was negligent in designing or assembling the brakes on the truck. The employee will receive automatic compensation from his employer, Acme Company, under the worker's compensation law and, on top of that, he can sue the truck's manufacturer.
If you have been injured on the job, it may be important to contact an attorney who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit.
Workers' Compensation laws are designed to ensure that employees who are injured or disabled on the job are provided with fixed monetary awards, eliminating the need for litigation. These laws also provide benefits for dependents of those workers who are killed because of work-related accidents or illnesses. Some laws also protect employers and fellow workers by limiting the amount an injured employee can recover from an employer and by eliminating the liability of co-workers in most accidents. State Workers Compensation statutes establish this framework for most employment. Federal statutes are limited to federal employees or those workers employed in some significant aspect of interstate commerce.
The Federal Employment Compensation Act provides workers compensation for non-military, federal employees. Many of its provisions are typical of most worker compensation laws. Awards are limited to "disability or death" sustained while in the performance of the employee's duties but not caused willfully by the employee or by intoxication. The act covers medical expenses due to the disability and may require the employee to undergo job retraining. A disabled employee receives two thirds of his or her normal monthly salary during the disability and may receive more for permanent physical injuries, or if he or she has dependents. The act provides compensation for survivors of employees who are killed. The act is administered by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.
The Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA), while not a workers' compensation statute, provides that railroads engaged in interstate commerce are liable for injuries to their employees if they have been negligent.
The Merchant Marine Act (the Jones Act) provides seamen with the same protection from employer negligence as FELA provides railroad workers.
Congress enacted the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) to provide workers' compensation to specified employees of private maritime employers. The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs administers the act.
The Black Lung Benefits Act provides compensation for miners suffering from "black lung" (pneumoconiosis). The Act requires liable mine operators to pay disability payments and establishes a fund administered by the Secretary of Labor providing disability payments to miners where the mine operator is unknown or unable to pay. The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs regulates the administration of the act.
California's Workers' Compensation Act provides an example of a comprehensive state compensation program. It is applicable to most employers. The statute limits the liability of the employer and fellow employees. California also requires employers to obtain insurance to cover potential workers' compensation claims, and sets up a fund for claims that employers have illegally failed to insure against.
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