Understanding Workers' Compensation
Jun 04, 2019 03:14 PM EDT
As a worker, you may find yourself injured while on the job in some capacity. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are about 374 million worker injuries globally per year. An injured worker means an inability to earn income for the duration of their recovery - sometimes that recovery never happens, and the worker has to go on disability. That's why systems like the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) in the Department of Labor exist. According to the Department of Labor, the programs cover four main areas that allow for wage replacement to workers that suffered an illness or injury as a result of their work. Before applying for workers' compensation, you may want to consult a lawyer dealing in personal injury (https://www.stewartlawoffices.net/charlotte-personal-injury-lawyer/workers-compensation/) to find out exactly what you qualify for. But in general, what does applying for workers benefit from your perspective mean?
Eligibility for the Programs
Because of the potential number of claims for workers' compensation, there are limiting factors in place that outline precisely who qualifies for these benefits and who doesn't. Two main criteria need to be met: first, that the worker had to have been injured or exposed to dangerous chemicals or diseases while on the job; second, that the incident that led to the disablement or injury occurred while in the ordinary course of performing the job. If you've met both these criteria, then you are a in a situation that workers' compensation was designed to help.
Types of Payments from Workers' Compensation
The compensation for workers' injury or disability can be either granted in a lump sum or over a scheduled series of payments. The total compensation is usually based on the extent of injuries, according to Stewart Law Offices, and whether there is permanent, partial or total disability as a result. In the case of wage-earners, during the time they are unable to return to work, non-scheduled payments are supposed to be given to provide financial aid since they are unable to work, but this only matters if the worker is not in a condition to re-enter the workforce. The payments generated through these programs are usually calculated based on the difference between the capacity to earn wages after the injury and the average amount the worker was paid before it.
Leave Without Pay While Injured
In some cases, companies offer injured workers the option of taking Leave Without Pay (LWOP) to recuperate after an injury. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln notes that workers in the university are entitled to five scheduled workdays with pay and can use their sick leave and vacation leave to supplement their earnings while on holiday, but after those options are exhausted the worker must apply for LWOP. If a worker applies for it with regards to the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, it doesn't count towards the six-month-per-year limit for creditable service. The time spent on LWOP can also be used to calculate annuity and eligibility for retirement in this case as well.
Time Limitations for Filing
Because of the nature of workers' compensation and the impact of an injury on earning ability, any worker suffering from an injury should apply within 30 days of the incident. This application can be filed through your immediate supervisor and the forms for doing so are readily available. If long-term disability or death occurs because of a particular work-related accident, the paperwork should be filed within three years of the incident.
Be Aware of your Rights
When an injury occurs, it can be a hectic time trying to ensure that all the issues dealing with the injury are taken care of. However, after the emergency functions are fulfilled, knowing where you stand regarding workers' compensation is just as important. A personal injury lawyer can advise you in navigating the legal system to get the compensation you deserve for your injury. Being paid for the time that you can't work is a significant consideration for many workers. It puts your mind at rest knowing that you have a financial cushion while you're unable to go to work.