Workplace injuries kill about a hundred people a week. Hundreds more are seriously injured every week. These life-changing events have serious consequences for the victims and their families. So, substantial compensation is usually available in workplace injury cases.
Injured workers do not need to prove fault or negligence to obtain this compensation. When it first appeared, the workers’ compensation system quickly and efficiently got injured workers the financial help they needed. But those days are gone. Now, the system is a bureaucratic maze and benefits have dropped in real terms since the 1960s. So, without an experienced advocate, workers face uphill battles.
Starting Your Claim
Workers’ compensation benefits are available for both trauma injuries, like broken bones, and occupational diseases, like neck pain.
Initiating a trauma injury claim is usually a straightforward matter. Even if you do not feel hurt, immediately report your injury to your supervisor and make an appointment to see a doctor. Many times, adrenaline from the injury masks the pain. That adrenaline goes away soon enough. If you do not immediately report the incident and writing and see a doctor right away, your claim for compensation will be seriously compromised.
Occupational disease claims are a bit more difficult. Most people do not run to the doctor as soon as they have trouble standing or problems breathing. Assume Wendy Worker starts having hearing problems in January 2017. She goes to the doctor in March 2017. After some test results come back the following month, the doctor tells Wendy that her hearing loss is work-related.
In that scenario, which is a very common one, the workers’ compensation insurance company usually claims that Wendy did not promptly report her illness and therefore the company denies her claim. But a variation of the discovery rule usually applies in these cases. So, Wendy did not have a duty to report the claim until she knew the extent of her hearing loss and she knew that it was work-related.
Pre-existing conditions sometimes pose a similar problem. Assume Wendy’s doctor said her hearing loss is 70 percent related to her job and 30 percent due to her attendance at rock music concerts. If she filed a workers’ compensation claim, the company would almost certainly deny her. But Wendy is probably legally entitled to the full measure of benefits, even though she had a preexisting condition.
Resolving Your Claim
Typically, Rockford workers’ compensation claims first go through a paper review process. A claims examiner reviews the medical records and then decides whether to pay the claim, deny the claim, or partially deny the claim. Usually, hearing officers always deny workers’ compensation claims.
They typically hope that this initial setback will convince the claimant to either abandon the claim or settle it for less than full value. It’s important not to get discouraged and to keep fighting.
A few months later, there is usually a trial-like hearing before an administrative law judge. At this hearing, an attorney can make legal arguments, introduce evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. So, victims have a much better chance of obtaining fair compensation.
This compensation usually includes money for both lost wages and medical bills. Victims with temporary disabilities usually receive two-thirds of their average weekly wages until they can return to work. Covered medical expenses include emergency hospital care, follow up medical care, physical rehabilitation, and all other reasonably necessary medical costs.
Count on Experienced Attorneys
Injured workers are usually entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. After hours visits are available.