You Can Rely Upon
It's a fact of life that some jobs are more dangerous than others, but every job, like every activity in life, comes with a certain degree of risk. If you've suffered physically because of your job, you may be entitled to workers' compensation.
Because this is such a complex topic, Attorneys Aaron Jainchill and Bill Beckert, principals of Jainchill & Beckert, Attorneys-At-Law, shared the questions they get asked most often about filing a claim for workers, along with information that can help you figure out if you have a claim, and, if so, what you should do next.
A: Workers' compensation is a program established in the United States in the early 1900s. Each state has its own laws and specific regulations, but in general, the laws are set up to ensure that every business can compensate people who are injured or develop an illness during the course of employment.
Connecticut workers' compensation laws require most businesses with employees to pay for workers' compensation insurance. The insurance carrier then covers the comp claim, which can include wage replacement and medical expenses, to employees who suffer work-related injuries. The injured employee does not have to establish fault, and the employee will be compensated even if they are at fault for the injury.
A quick note here: a sole proprietor is generally exempt from the workers' compensation law's definition of “employee” in CT, and thus are not required to be covered by workers' compensation insurance. But sole proprietors must cover all employees working for them.
Attorney Beckert explained the concept of workers' compensation in its simplest terms. “Workers' compensation benefits are an area of the law designed to help a variety of workers who are hurt at work and are unable to fulfill job duties. It is a form of insurance.” If you believe you may have a workers' compensation claim, it is well worth hiring a workers' compensation lawyer to guide you through the process of evaluating your claim, working with your employer, and ensuring that you get fair compensation for your illness or injury.
A: The statute of limitations for filing a compensation claim for an accidental injury is one year from the date of the injury. Claims for repetitive trauma must be made no later than one year from the date of last employment , and an occupational disease claim must be made three years from the first manifestation of a symptom.
A: Workers' compensation claims fall under one of three types of injuries: physical injury, repetitive trauma injury or occupational disease.
Before we get into those, though, it's worth defining the term, "injury." As it relates to workers' compensation, a job-related injury is any event that occurs arising out of, and in the course of, a worker doing a job for his or her employer. A job-related injury typically causes at least a partial disability for an amount of time.
Some of these categories -- and some injuries and illnesses within these categories -- are more easily proven than others. That's why it's important to hire the best workers' compensation lawyer you can find. “Each individual case is completely unique,” said Attorney Beckert. “That's why it's important to talk to an attorney who will get to know you, and who can look at what you've gone through. If it weren't serious, you wouldn't be contacting us.”
Physical injuries most often arise as the result of workplace accidents. “The person who files a workers' comp claim for a physical injury is generally someone who works in a field that requires physical exertion. Whether that's a nurse at a hospital who has to move patients, a loading dock worker, a driver, or someone working in a manufacturing line-- anyone who has to do physical work as part of their job is most typical to file a physical injury claim,” Attorney Beckert explained.
Physical injury claims can be complex and will involve an initial evaluation following the job injury. That is often followed by ongoing treatment to bring about medical improvement, and the possibility of job retraining to get an employee safely back into the workforce.
Next are repetitive trauma injuries. These include things like carpal tunnel syndrome and other bodily damage that can come from the activities we refer to as "wear and tear." These injuries come about over time, and are caused by repetitive motions. “If you've spent the last 20 years working as a secretary in the same job and your wrist has deteriorated to the point where you are in a lot of pain, or you're an oil delivery guy, who's been delivering oil for the same company for 25 years and your back starts to go out -- those are the kinds of things you can call repetitive trauma,” Attorney Beckert told us. Among the careers that are susceptible to repetitive trauma injuries: postal workers, musicians, assembly line workers and anyone who spends an extended amount of time at a computer keyboard.
Finally, there are occupational diseases. An occupational disease could affect someone who has been exposed to a carcinogen or poisonous substance at work, usually without his or her knowledge. Construction workers, healthcare technicians who may be exposed to communicable diseases, and those exposed to chemicals that have been proven to be carcinogenic may be at risk for developing a disease as a result of their employment. If the disease does present itself, a claim can be filed.
A: If you've been at a job where you feel like you've been psychologically or emotionally mistreated, you may have a case, but it may not be an actual workers' compensation case. As Attorney Beckert lays it out, “Workers' compensation is really an injury claim. Workers' comp is driven solely by whether or not you suffered physical harm while working. Now, that can morph into psychological claims like PTSD, anxiety, things like that,” he said, “but there has to be a physical component or a physical magnification of injury for you to be eligible. You can't come in and claim, ‘My work is driving me out of my mind,' and then make comp claims without having suffered physical harm.”
A: Workers' compensation provides two types of benefits:
- Medical Benefits: All incident related medical bills, including prescriptions, are covered by Workers Compensation. This also includes prescribed medical devices and accomodations at home, such as ramps, if prescribed by your doctor.
- Temporary Total Disability: This is a benefit paid to you when your doctor says you are unable to do any type of work because of your injury.
- Temporary Partial Incapacity: This is a benefit paid to you when your doctor says you have the ability to work light duty. This is a kind of partial disability benefit that will be expected to end upon completion of medical treatment.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: This is a benefit paid to you when your doctor says you are not going to benefit from any further treatment, and gives an opinion that the part of your body that was involved in the claim is permanently injured.
An experienced workers' compensation attorney can assist you in navigating the rules regarding benefit classification and eligibility.
A: Your employer pays for workers' compensation insurance, or has an approved method of self-funded payment to provide for employees injured or sickened on the job. Comp insurance is not like health insurance – there are no employee payroll deductions for workers' compensation insurance. From the State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission Workers' Compensation is a NO-FAULT system of insurance with the benefits paid by the employer's workers' compensation insurance coverage.
A: Workers are often hurt on the job as they are doing the things they've done every day for years – especially when it comes to physical injuries. In these cases, it's critical to begin the case immediately. “When you're injured at work, the first thing you need to do is document that you were hurt on the job,” Attorney Beckert clarified. “And if you are hurt on a job, you should immediately stop what you're doing, and then go find someone and report your injury. If you can let a supervisor or manager know, that can be very important to your case.” Many cases are denied because an injured employee delays in reporting the claim.
After that, your employer should formally recognize that you've been injured and, depending on the severity of your injury, should send you for initial treatment. Some employers have arrangements with medical providers, like physical and occupational therapists. Attorney Beckert advises, “What is most important is that you are evaluated and diagnosed. Whether it is a muscle strain or something much worse, it's important to get into treatment immediately.” That, of course, is not the end of the story. From here, your individual case will have its own twists and turns as you get on the road to recovering. But sometime early in the process (ideally between the injury and your evaluation), you should schedule a consultation with an attorney with expertise in workers' compensation laws. “It's really never too soon to be considering your options,” says Attorney Jainchill. “A workers' compensation lawyer will help you to understand what's happening as you go through the process, and will give you guidance on how to document, how to proceed and what questions you'll need to have answered. Comp law has nuances that can affect your case. That's why, in CT, you'll want a lawyer that truly knows the laws, and can work with those laws to take care of you physically and financially.” There is much more information available to you, both through State of CT resources like the Workers' Compensation Commission and through the law. If you are seeking a lawyer for workers' compensation, Jainchill & Beckert can help . Attorney Beckert promises, “We will fight to get you compensated fairly, and we are very successful with our workers' compensation claims.”
If you or someone you know has been injured on the job and you’re searching for the best workers’ compensation lawyer, Jainchill & Beckert is a great place to start. We invite you to learn more about us, hear from our clients or fill out our form and set up a free consultation with us. Or get in touch with us at (860) 383-6719 – we’re ready to help you recover from your injury and move forward with your life.