Do You Qualify for Workers Compensation?
Connecticut Workers Compensation Attorneys:
What You Need To Know If You've Been Injured At Work
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.
+ What Is Worker's Compensation?
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, regardless of who is 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 therefore is 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.
+ In Connecticut, How Long Do I Have To File a Workers' Compensation Claim After My Injury?
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.
+What Are the Three Kinds of Workers Compensation Claims?
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 arises 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 the 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 they 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.
+What Kinds Of Injuries Are Not Eligible for Workers' Compensation?
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.”
+What Kind Of Benefits Am I Eligible to Receive?
Workers' compensation provides two main types of benefits -- medical and indemnity. Medical benefits are what you would expect -- compensation for medical visits, treatments and physical accomodations needed because of a workplace illness or injury. Indemnity benefits replace wages while an employee is unable to work because of an injury or illness. To further explain:
- 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.
+Who Pays For Workers' Compensation?
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."
+What Should I Do After I've Been Injured On the Job?
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 claim 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.”
Importance of Hiring a Lawyer for Workers' Compensation
1. To Negotiate Better With Insurance Company
A workers' compensation lawyer will use their legal knowledge and expertise to check for any loopholes that the insurance company may be trying to use, such as mishandling of paperwork or not properly updating case records. They then present them as evidence for why the client should be awarded more than just what was originally determined.
2. To Strengthen Your Case in Court
Injured workers often choose to file a claim to obtain a financial settlement to cover their medical care and offset their lost wages. However, due to various circumstances, some end up losing their cases. In such an instance, a lawyer will be able to help strengthen your case by collecting evidence, negotiating settlements, and developing a strategy to counter the claims against you.
3. To Protect Your Legal Rights
In the event of a workplace accident, a lawyer can inform you of your rights and help you file a claim to recover lost wages and medical expenses. They may also help you file a claim against the insurance company if they refuse to pay. They will also assist you if you are sued by a third party and need legal representation.
4. To Ensure Compliance With Laws
Workers' compensation laws are continuously changing. A lawyer will be able to help you stay abreast of these changes to ensure that your claim and other paperwork are in accordance with the law. They can also help you understand any new laws being passed that may affect your claim.
5. To Get a Fair Compensation
When you are injured at work, it can be challenging to understand the ambiguity of the legal system and how it affects your job and your livelihood. With a lawyer, you will be able to deal with all aspects of your injury and will not have to worry about anything else. A qualified professional will get the compensation you deserve.
6. They help You Fulfill Legal Requirements
It is important to remember that many legal requirements must be fulfilled when opening a workers' compensation case. These requirements may vary depending on where you live. There are also deadlines for filing an injury claim or lawsuit. A lawyer will help you fulfill the requirements without any ado.
Why Should You Choose us as Your Workers' Compensation Attorney?
1. We Ensure Your Peace of Mind
By helping you navigate the convoluted system of workers' compensation, Jainchill & Beckert will ensure that you are not taken advantage of. We will ensure that the employer pays out what they owe without issues. Our attorneys will ensure your peace of mind by getting you a fair and reasonable settlement.
2. We are Affordable
If you're looking for an affordable law firm that will stand up for your rights and work with you every step of the way, then look no further than Jainchill & Beckert. We provide numerous clients with the best value and top-notch service, making us one of Connecticut's most recommended firms.
3. We Help Workers from All Industries
We are committed to helping employees from all industries file their injury claims. We have a team of highly trained professionals who have helped numerous injured workers, including firefighters, truck drivers, and forklift operators, get back on their feet.
4. We Help You Cut Through Red Tape
Our attorneys have extensive knowledge and understanding of workers' compensation laws, which helps them cut through red tape. We know the complex process of filing a workers' compensation claim like the back of our hand. For those seeking assistance with the nuances of this system, we will walk you through every step of the process.
5. We Ensure Highest Possible Compensation
The Law Offices of Jainchill & Beckert will work diligently on behalf of your interests to help you get the right compensation for your injuries, whether they are physical or mental. We will get you the settlement you deserve after an injury, regardless of how your employer responds or who was at fault. We use our legal knowledge and experience to make sure that your voice is heard.
6. We Help You Know Your Rights
In today's competitive work environment, it can be challenging to make a living. For this reason, many workers put in extra hours at their employer's request, which can lead to injury if not managed properly. But what happens when a worker suffers an injury and doesn't know about their rights? If that sounds like you, we will help you know your rights!
If you or someone you know is thinking about options following an injury, or you’re already searching for the best personal injury lawyer in CT, Jainchill & Beckert is a great resource. 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 fight for you, to guide you, and to get you beyond your injury.