When you experience an injury or illness while on the job, workers’ compensation is the most worthwhile tool you can have to get any damages incurred as a result. It is especially good in the event that the damages only put you out for a week or two. Unfortunately however, that is not always going to be the case. Some injuries and illnesses incurred while on the job are going to be lasting, potentially even for your whole life. Victims of such injuries or illnesses will inevitably have this question: does workers’ comp cover long-term problems and illnesses?
Does workers’ comp cover long-term injuries and illnesses?
There are a lot of injuries and illnesses that can be incurred as a result of your work, with some being more common than others depending on your career of choice. For example, someone who works in a kitchen is inherently going to be more likely to suffer burns than if they worked as a waiter in the same restaurant. At the same time, however, being a waiter does not exempt a person from suffering an injury. For example, they may slip on a wet floor, or they may find themselves having contact with someone who has Coronavirus, leading to them contracting it themselves. Granted, with the vaccine, it is that much less likely to catch it, let alone for it to be severe, but if you can show that you contracted it while at work, you would be obligated to receive workers’ comp for as long as you need to recover from the illness.
For all the office workers out there, you might be under the impression that you do not have to worry about suffering an injury or illness. Not only that, but things are becoming that much safer for office workers, what with how many businesses have switched to remote work due to the Coronavirus. This means that you are less likely to contract illnesses (Covid or otherwise) from your co-workers, and you do not have to worry about whether your workspace is safe, since you have all the power over how safe your workplace is now. Plus, you do not have to drive to and from work, meaning you are no longer at risk of injury during your commute. However, there is one type of injury that is especially common among office workers that still remains a problem. This injury comes as a result of typing and is called carpal tunnel syndrome. Basically, carpal tunnel syndrome involves a major nerve being compressed over the wrist’s carpal bone, creating pain in your hand in fingers. It is becoming more common as people begin to use technology that encourages its development.
Carpal tunnel injuries are covered under workers’ comp, thankfully, and compensation will vary depending on both the legal jurisdiction and the severity of the injury. After all, if the carpal tunnel issue is bad enough, it can completely destroy your ability to perform a job involving typing. You would have to look for another line of work as a result, which may well mean having to get retrained and reeducated to do something new.
Carpal tunnel is a common type of chronic pain one can experience as a result of repetitive stress. However, that is not the extent of the types of chronic pain that may develop. For example, chronic back pain and chronic neck pain are two other common injuries that one may sustain after from a repetitive stress injury. When the injury finally manifests, you may be wondering whether you can even file for workers’ comp if you no longer work with the employer where the injuries began to develop. Thankfully, it does not matter, since the injury still occurred on the workplace, and thus entitles you to workers’ comp.
How to handle reporting an injury
No matter what your injury may be, you must report to a superior, who will — or should — make note of it. This is a necessary first step in the workers’ comp process, and if you fail to report, it may prevent you from receiving any compensation whatsoever. In the event that your supervisor disregards your injury, or insists that you continue working, this could make them liable for any further damages that result from your continued labor. For example, if you are burnt at work, and when you inform your superior of this, they make you continue working instead of treating the injury. Burn injuries can become significantly worse if they are not properly treated, especially if the burn is more than just superficial. Not only could a person receive damages to cover their medical expenses and lost wages from not being able to work anymore, but the employer may be expected to pay punitive damages as a result of their gross negligence.
Once you apply for workers’ comp, the insurance company has 21 days following the injury in order to decide whether to approve or deny your workers’ comp claim. They may temporarily accept your claim, but then later deny it. This is a tactic that insurance providers employ in order to have a longer time to investigate and, ideally, find cause to deny it within the first 90 days after the claim was approved. Once this 90 span of time passes, however, if the insurance company has not denied it, you should be golden. If they do accept your claim, they may take responsibility for your medical expenses and/or lost wages. In the event that they do not respond to your claim at all, however, the law ensures that whatever you eventually receive from workers’ comp will also include penalties from the insurance company (as a cherry on the top of your workers’ comp sundae).
One of the biggest issues you may experience when dealing with an insurance agent is that insurance companies do not want to pay out if they do not have to. This is also true for the employer, so your employer may attempt to withhold workers’ comp. This is especially an issue for workers’ comp that may be covering your injuries and illnesses in the long term. The reason why an employer may try to stop you from filing is because they want to avoid having too many people filing workers’ comp. If a lot of people file, then it may indicate that this workplace is particularly unsafe. Granted, the appropriate action is to improve workplace safety training and make the workplace safer in general, but that’s more expensive than cheating you out of your workers’ comp, so they may elect to try that instead.
In the event that your workers’ comp claim has been denied, you are entitled to appeal this decision. This is done through a process called a Claim Petition. If you are having difficulties getting compensation for a long-term injury or illness caused by your work, you need to make sure that you are able to receive appropriate compensation. After all, injured workers deserve compensation from their employers. A lawyer becomes even more valuable in the appeal process, as they can help get your appeal looking good. An attorney will increase the likelihood that your appeal is approved.