Workers Compensation, also referred to as Workers Comp, are laws that protect working people who are injured on the job. Any necessary medical care, lost wages due to injury, and possible rehabilitation are all covered. The aim is to allow workers to return to work as soon as and as safely as possible. The laws also give benefits to dependents of workers who are killed in work-related accidents.
State laws take care of their workers, but the laws vary sometimes widely from state to state. Most states, however, do require workers compensation insurance. It is important for a business owner to be aware of his or her state requirements. Federal statutes cover federal workers or those in some part of interstate commerce. Some special federal laws specify a certain type of worker:
* Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA) covers those who work for the railroads
in interstate commerce and are injured due to the railroad’s negligence.
* Merchant Marine Act (Jones Act) covers seamen on ships with U.S. flags who are
injured due to employer negligence.
* Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act (LHWCA) covers certain workers in
private maritime sites.
* Black Lung Benefits Act gives compensation to workers who have black lung disease,
known as pneumoconiosis.
Small business owners should carry workers compensation insurance because even if their state doesn’t require it, many customers will not do business with a firm without it. Most states require a business owner to carry this insurance if he or she has one or more employees besides the owner or partner. The cost is determined by each state and is based on risk. A company with mainly clerical workers is at lower risk, for instance, than a company employing those who work with hazardous materials.
What should an employer do if a worker is injured on the job? After medical help is provided, the worker must be given a compensation claim one working day after the injury is reported. The claim must be sent to the claim administrator, along with the owner’s accident report, within one working day after the worker completes it. Medical treatment must, of course, be authorized. If appropriate, light duty work must be given to the employee during recovery. Employers are also urged to keep an open dialogue with an injured employee after the accident.
Injured workers who do not receive proper benefits should contact personal injury lawyers or workers compensation lawyers, especially those who are experienced in such cases. Injured workers who are urged to return to work before they are actually medically able to do so should also contact workers compensation lawyers or personal injury lawyers.