A worker doesn't wake up one day and decide he or she wants to be seriously injured at work...it just happens. My father-in-law put his weight on the wrong foot and fell 8 feet out of his end-loader smashing his right hip on the cement. Just like that he was out of commission and sitting in his recliner for over four months! Moving out of your normal routine is no fun nor is the myriad of paperwork, financial consequences, and limited mobility of a worker's compensation claim. Worse is the fact that your co-workers and superiors believe you are faking your injury or flat-out lying to game the system.
Thankfully, in most workers' comp cases, the above does not always happen and plaintiff attorneys are not called on to intervene. Clearing up some of the commonly held work comp myths and understanding some of the reasons an injured worker would seek legal counsel is a big step toward achieving the best possible outcome for all parties involved. Simply ask a worker's comp plaintiff attorney and he or she will tell you that the entire system is stacked against the employee long before an injury even occurs. "Employees lose the right to sue their employers and must forego all benefits typically awarded in personal injury lawsuits, including pain and suffering, lost wages, and compensation for future lost wages." says David B. Vail of Vail, Cross-Euteneier and Associates.
- MYTH: I was careless and caused my own injury so now I can't make a Worker's Comp claim.
- TRUTH: Worker's Compensation is a no-fault system that allows employee injured by their own fault or the fault of a co-worker to file a claim.
- MYTH: I can sue my employer for negligence or recklessness.
- TRUTH: Even if dangerous conditions were known by the employer, employees cannot take action against their employer. The only exception is if an employer purposely harms the employee.
- MYTH: All injured employees are faking their injuries and engaging in fraud.
- TRUTH: Very rarely are Worker's Compensation claims fraudulent. More often workers are injured, ill, and in need of compensation to continue their standard of living.
Workers' compensation insurance provides medical, hospital and related services for employees who either are injured on the job or who develop an occupational disease because of their work. Those temporarily unable to work because of a work-related injury or illness may qualify for partial wage compensation. Other benefits injured workers may be entitled to include: vocational rehabilitation services; permanent partial disability awards and / or pension benefits for those permanently unable to return to the workforce.