What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation (WC) is a widely adopted social insurance program in the United States. It’s the oldest insurance program of its kind, dating back to 1911 when Wisconsin passed the first comprehensive WC law. Mississippi was the last state to pass WC legislation in 1948. Now, all states have their own programs.
The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) is administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) through the U.S. Department of Labor. FECA provides benefits to civilian employees in the United States. Its purpose is to provide compensation to federal employees who have been disabled from an occupational injury.
Before workers’ compensation, injured workers could sue employers, but awards were unpredictable and the laws generally favored employers. WC laws eliminate the right to sue but guarantee quick, reliable benefits after an injury claim.
Workers’ compensation insurance is fully funded by employers. In addition to WC, employees can also sue third parties who may be liable for their work injuries. However, proceeds from these suits reimburse the employer’s insurance carrier.
When an injured employee receives benefits from WC, the compensation may be used to pay medical costs, lost wages, and other bills during the recovery period. Through WC, employees quickly receive capped monetary payments.
Workers’ Compensation and Asbestos
There are two ways in which a mesothelioma patient receives compensation. Filing a workers’ compensation claim is one option. The other includes filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against a liable asbestos company.
Workers’ compensation claims are filed through an employer. A worker cannot file a WC through asbestos manufacturers, suppliers, or contractors, although mesothelioma lawsuits can be filed against those entities. Workers’ compensation cannot be filed with the Asbestos Trusts.
Though WC covers occupational injuries, the employers are generally cleared of any liability. In some cases, a separate lawsuit against an employer may bring in more compensation for an employee than filing through workers’ compensation.
WC laws and programs vary by state. State laws generally establish compensation amounts based on the type of injury. All states offer similar benefits, including medical coverage, temporary or permanent disability payments, and vocational rehabilitation for workers who need assistance in finding another job.
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Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Since each state has its own workers’ compensation program, the filing process may differ depending on location. However, there are similar eligibility requirements between each state. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can confirm requirements on a state-by-state basis.
An injured employee is required to report work-related injuries to the employer. After an injury is reported in writing, the employer will provide a claim form to the worker. Finally, the employer submits the form to the local board office and its insurer.
Similar to filing a lawsuit, each state has a different timeframe in which an employee can file a workers’ compensation claim. To ensure the process is done correctly, contact a mesothelioma lawyer.
Eligibility Requirements for Filing a Claim
When filing a WC claim, employees must meet a few requirements. First, there must be evidence of a diagnosis and any medical treatment. Additionally, mesothelioma patients must provide details of asbestos exposure. These details can include the type of asbestos, where and when exposure occurred, and how long the worker was exposed to the toxin.
After an employee files the claim, the state workers’ compensation board will review the document. If the employee is eligible, board members decide the amount of compensation based on the workers’ salary and medical bills from their injuries. Because WC is state-by-state, each state usually has a maximum amount of compensation an employee can receive.
What Are The Risks?
Workers’ compensation laws were created in each state to provide benefits to eligible employees who were injured on the job. However, these laws also protect employers from lawsuits. Further, WC cases are not designed to assign blame on the liable parties.
WC does not cover all indirect costs. Victims who aren’t able to work still have to pay for things WC does not cover. In addition, WC does not cover any “pain and suffering” damages, like mental anguish.
Most states fund compensation budgets through private insurance carriers. Since there have been many asbestos-related compensation claims, private carriers have favored cutting back WC programs. This includes reducing the amount of money an employee receives.