According to the International Labor Organization, slightly over one million people die from work-related injuries or illnesses every year. Fortunately, should you injure yourself at work or get a work-related illness, you don’t have to worry about digging into your pockets because of workers’ comp.

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that covers employees’ medical and other related expenses should you get an illness or injury at work. The government requires all employers to get workers’ compensation coverage for their employees in all states except Texas. Although not mandatory in Texas, the employer loses crucial defenses should the injured employee decide to sue the company.

Though most employees have workers’ compensation coverage, not as many know its ins and out. For some employees, workers’ compensation is a muddled topic that they highly generalize. As an employee, it’s your responsibility to know all about the intricacies of workers’ comp in case you need to file a claim.

This post will highlight a few basics of workers’ compensation every employee should know.

1. Types of Workers’ Compensation Insurance

The first thing you need to know about workers’ compensation is the many different types of workers’ compensation coverage. Here are a few types of workers’ compensation coverage.

Medical Benefits

Medical benefits handle all your medical expenses, including diagnosis and any medical care that follows after. Some of these medical benefits for employees include:-

  • Medical
  • Hospital stays
  • Dental
  • Surgeries
  • Prescription medication
  • Medical care and continued medical services

These are just a few of the plethora of medical benefits covered by this particular type of coverage. It’s also the most popular form of worker’s compensation coverage.

Reemployment Services

In some situations, the work-related injury or illness renders you incapable of performing your normal job duties. In such instances, you may qualify for reemployment provided by your workers’ compensation coverage. These reemployment services include vocational testing, assistance with getting a new job, creating a CV, and training for a new job.

Payment for Lost Wages

Sometimes your injury or illness may warrant a few days or weeks out of your job. During this recovery period, you’ll lose out on your usual income. However, you can still get your income compensation from your workers’ comp cover.

You’re also entitled to payment of lost wages even if you can only earn part of your salary. For instance, if your current condition only allows you to work half your usual capacity, you still qualify for income compensation. You’ll, however, need signed documents from the doctor substantiating your inability to work.

Preferred Worker Program

If your work-related injury or sickness results in a permanent disability, then you may qualify for a preferred worker card. This card tells any future employer the financial benefits that your insurance carrier confers to you. Maybe these financial benefits can convince the employer in question to consider you for a permanent position.

2. The Basics of Workers’ Compensation

As mentioned earlier, workers’ compensation is insurance that your employee pays for to cover for any injury or illness during work. Note that, you don’t have to pay for workers’ compensation, and neither should you do so. However, you should keep the following in mind:

  • It’s your responsibility to report to your manager or supervisor in case of any work-related injury or illness
  • The insurance provider or your employer decides the doctor and the medical facility you’ll visit for your injury
  • Workers’ compensation will only pay for necessary and reasonable medical care should you get hurt or sick at work
  • Depending on the coverage, you can get part, or your entire income should the sickness or injury make you incapable of working

Also, note that your employer and the insurance provider expect you back to work as soon as your condition improves. However, this doesn’t mean that your employer can force you back to work without any significant improvement in your condition. Plus, you cannot file for workers’ compensation coverage when you don’t have any work-related injury or illness.

Reporting a false work-related injury or sickness could land you a third-degree felony conviction, which can get you between two and ten years in jail or a fine of up to $10,000. That’s why it’s always a bad idea to fake a work-related injury or sickness. Plus, remember the insurance carrier or employer has the right to choose the doctor that will treat you.

3. What Should I Do If I Suffer a Work-Related Injury?

To get medical benefits and workers’ comp coverage after a work-related injury, you first have to know whether your employer has the proper coverage. However, after a work-related injury or illness, you should do the following to get workers’ comp.

  • Report the injury or ailment to your manager or supervisor as soon as you can.
  • Visit the doctor prescribed by your employer or the insurance provider

Meanwhile, your employer will fill out a first report of injury or call the insurance provider. You also have to fill out some forms so you can start getting workers’ comp benefits. The employer will furnish you with a copy of the first report of injury or illness form for your record keeping.

Depending on your insurance carrier and the provider, receiving medical benefits may become a very convoluted process. If you don’t want the insurance carrier to reverse or delay your medical benefits, ensure you do the following:

  • Go back to work as soon as the doctor gives you the green right
  • Get to all appointments on time and without fail
  • Complete and send all workers’ compensation forms on time
  • Request and receive approval from the insurance provider before receiving any treatment
  • Maintain all medical and workers’ compensation records in case anything crops up in the future

Keep in mind that the insurance company can waive your rights to benefits or medical care if the workers’ compensation stays inactive for over a year. This means that if the employer doesn’t request payments for lost wages or any medical care, then the workers’ comp becomes null.

 Make sure you follow this up with your employer before requesting for workers’ comp. Also, make sure to follow the guidelines that your state stipulates; worker compensation guidelines vary from state to state.

4. Frequently Asked Workers’ Comp Questions

At this point, there’s a lot you know about workers’ compensation and who is eligible for it. Here are a couple of common questions employees have about workers’ compensation and their subsequent answers.

Is It Mandatory for My Employer to Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

As mentioned earlier, workers’ compensation insurance is compulsory for all employers with more than four employees. It doesn’t matter whether the employees work full-time or part-time. The only exception is Texas, where the state doesn’t require employers to have workers’ comp for their employees.

Do I Pay for Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

No, it’s up to your employer to pay your workers’ compensation. You don’t have to pay a single cent for your workers’ compensation.

Can I Lose My Job While Receiving Treatment via Workers’ Compensation?

No,  your employer can’t fire you while receiving treatment under your workers’ comp cover. However, the employer has the right to find a replacement for you during your period of absence. You will reclaim your position once you get back on your feet.

Do I Get Back to Full Duty, Immediately After Release From the Hospital?

Depending on the severity of your injury or sickness, the doctor might suggest light duties before you make a complete recovery. That said, don’t worry about getting back to work full force before making a full recovery. In case you have any squabbles with your employer over your pre-recovery duties, you can check out this helpful resource.

From Where Do I Get My Workers’ Comp Check?

You either receive your check straight from the insurance provider or from your employer. As long as you filled out all the forms and followed the due procedure, you should have your check in no time.

When Should I Expect My Workers’ Compensation Check?

The earliest you can get your check is three weeks after the accident. This only happens If you informed management of the injury as soon as it occurred. That way, your employer can complete the first report of injury or accident and send it to the insurance provider.

The insurance provider should release the check within fourteen days after receiving news of the accident. You’ll either receive the check straight from the insurance carrier or from your employer.

Get Your Workers’ Comp Facts Straight

Now that you know more than a few things about workers’ comp, we hope you won’t have a problem the next time you’re filing a workers’ comp claim. Remember to notify your supervisor as soon as you get any injury at work. Also, remember you don’t have to pay a single dime for your workers’ compensation.

There’s much more from where that came from. For more informative reads, be sure to check out the other pieces on the site.