Ordinarily, filing for workers compensation is a pretty smooth process. Most employers have the required workers compensation and also genuinely want their employees to heal from an injury and get back to productive work, so they'll do what they can to facilitate your claim. Most employees who file claims get their medical bills paid with little objection from the insurance carrier or the employer. Most workers compensation claims don't require you to hire a lawyer. However, there are always exceptions, and if you happen to be one of them, you might have some tough questions about how to go about getting your medical bills paid. Here are the answers to a few of the toughest questions that can come up after a workplace injury.
What If Your Employer Doesn't Have Workers Compensation Insurance?
Of all the hurdles that you could possibly face when trying to collect workers compensation, an employer who doesn't carry workers compensation is probably the most difficult one. It's hard to collect on a policy that doesn't exist. This can happen if you work in a very small company – some states require a business with even one employee to maintain workers compensation coverage, but in other states, the threshold for requiring coverage is higher. And Texas doesn't require any company of any size to carry workers compensation.
So what can you do when there's no workers compensations coverage? Depending on your state, you may be able to sue your employer for damages in court. This can be beneficial, because in a lawsuit, there are no caps on the awards. You can sue for punitive damages, emotional damages, and more in lost wages than workers compensation allows. However, it can also be a draw. Lawsuits move slowly, and there's always the possibility that you could lose the case.
You can also check with your state's Department of Labor – in some states, they maintain funds specifically for compensating injured employees of uninsured employers.
If You Work Two Jobs, Can You Collect Workers Compensation From Both?
In the current economy, it's not at all unusual to have two (or more) jobs. A workplace injury at one job can put you on the bench at both jobs. So can you be compensated for your lost wages from both jobs? As with many other workers compensation questions, the answer seems to depend on the state that you are working in.
The New Jersey Department of Labor says no, you cannot collect lost wages for both jobs. You're only entitled to the lost wages from the job where the injury occurred. However, in Ohio, the state Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that an employee's wages from a second job could be counted when calculating workers compensation benefits. If you have more than one job, your best course of action is to check with your state's Department of Labor to see what the rule is in your state right away. If your state does allow wages from multiple jobs to be considered, you'll want to know as soon as possible so that you can ensure that your employer and their workers compensation carrier have that information.
What If Your Employer Refuses To Report Your Injury To The Insurance Company?
Most employers will simply take your accident report and send it to their insurance carrier, but every now and then, you might come across one that just won't – this can happen when the employer is afraid of their insurance rates being hiked, or when they want to hide some type of negligence.
If you know or suspect that your employer hasn't reported your accident, you can report it to the insurance company yourself. Most states require employers to post proof of workers compensation insurance somewhere visible on the workplace premises, so you can use that to find out where to send the report. If it's a manager or supervisor that refused to report your accident, you may need to go above their heads to their superior, the human resources department, or the owners, so that you can make sure that the company higher-ups are apprised of the situation.
When you're having difficulty collecting the workers compensation that you're entitled to, an experienced workers compensation attorney can help you. If you're facing a tough situation like the ones mentioned here, you do need to protect yourself by retaining expert legal advice. Click here for more information.