In 2016 in the U.S., there were over 5,000 workers killed and almost 3 million workers injured in on-the-job accidents. If this happens to you or one of your loved ones, it is important that you know how to protect your rights in order to receive the compensation, care and medical treatment that you deserve. For over 65 years, the attorneys at Lattof & Lattof, P.C. have been helping victims of on-the-job injuries along the Gulf Coast and elsewhere obtain the benefits and compensation they deserve. We will work hard as your advocate to protect your rights and to obtain full recompense for your injuries and losses. Let us help you enjoy peace of mind as you recover while we take away the stress and worry of having to deal with employers, insurance companies, claims adjusters and the other overwhelming aspects of getting you fairly compensated for your injuries, losses and suffering.
Understanding Workers' Compensation
Every state in the U.S. provides worker’s compensation protection and benefits for employees injured or killed on-the-job. In addition, some categories of workers, such as certain maritime employees are covered by federal worker’s compensation laws. There are some general facts and legal principles that every injured worker should be aware of regarding injuries on-the-job. While these may not apply in each and every case, it is nonetheless important that every employee be aware of them:
- You are entitled to medical treatment provided by your employer if you are injured on the job. In some jurisdictions you may have some rights in choosing your doctor and in others, the employer chooses the doctor for you.
- You are entitled to periodic compensation payments from your employer for your time off work due to the injury. The amount of these payments is usually based on a percentage of your past average weekly earnings with your employer.
- You are entitled to compensation for any permanent or vocational impairment and disability that you suffer as a result of your injury.
- You are entitled to these benefits, even if no one “caused” the injury and in most cases – even if it is entirely your fault. (Not always applicable if the worker was intoxicated or on drugs.)
- As a “trade-off” for receiving benefits in all cases regardless of who was at fault, you cannot usually sue your employer for any negligence in causing your injury and are usually limited to only claiming worker’s compensation benefits from your employer. However, if a subcontractor or some person or company other than your employer (and employees of your employer) negligently caused your injury, then you may be able to sue that other person or company for your injuries in addition to receiving worker’s compensation. In those cases, you would be legally obligated to reimburse your employer for the benefits paid under worker’s compensation.
Common Mistakes Made By Injured Workers
- Failing to promptly report the injury to your employer or supervisor. It is important that as soon as you even “think” you may have injured yourself on-the-job (such as when you first feel a twinge or pain in your neck or back, etc.) – you should immediately notify your foreman or supervisor or employer of the possible injury. This should be done in writing either by giving a written notice to your employer or by filling out an injury report in the employer’s office. All worker’s compensation laws provide that you must report the injury within a certain period of time (sometimes as short as 5 days) and that if you fail to do so, you may lose all entitlement to benefits. If there’s no written documentation of your injury or report, the employer could simply deny ever knowing about it and this could jeopardize your benefits.
- Failing to promptly seek medical treatment for your injuries. If you’re injured and try to “tough it out” for a couple of weeks without going to a doctor, it can often make it much more difficult for you to obtain the benefits you deserve. The longer you wait before going to a doctor, the harder it is for that doctor to relate the problems you are having back to an injury that occurred days or weeks earlier. Employer’s will often argue that because you waited so long, you must not have been hurt on-the-job and were most likely injured in some later non-job-related accident.
- Failing to follow your doctor's treatment orders is another mistake often made by injured workers. If you miss appointments, terminate treatment early, fail to take the prescribed medications/therapy or fail to restrict your activities as recommended by your doctor, it could be devastating to your case. You should fully cooperate with your doctor and follow his instructions. This includes being completley honest with the doctor regarding your medical history, use of alcohol/tobacco/drugs, pain, symptoms and every other factor which your doctor thinks is relevant to your medical evaluation and treatment.
Were You Injured On The Job?
If you or a loved one have been injured on-the-job or if you have lost a loved one due to an on-the-job accident, you or they may be entitled to financial compensation and other benefits from the employer as well as any 3rd party companies or persons at fault in causing the accident. To speak with a personal injury lawyer, call Lattof & Lattof today for a free consultation regarding your potential rights. Remember that claims of this type usually have a certain time limitation within which you may take action, so it is important that you make the call as soon as you can so as to preserve your rights.