Workers’ compensation refers to a set of state-mandated and federal rules and regulations that provide financial support and medical care for workers who get injured on the job. These regulations were enacted to help improve workplace safety and protect employee health. They are an important element of the modern workplace.
Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated insurance system that pays medical bills and some lost wages to employees who are injured on the job, or who have work-related diseases or illnesses. Employees get benefits based on the type and severity of their injuries and/or illnesses. Federal employees are subject to different workers’ compensation guidelines.
Each state has specific regulations regarding workers’ compensation. To find Connecticut’s specific regulations, click here.
To effectively manage their workplace, it’s important for employers to understand the complex facets of the workers’ compensation system for the states in which they operate. In some states, the size of an organization’s workforce dictates whether an employer must offer workers’ compensation to their employees. In other states, insurance providers and patients have a choice of primary caregiver and rehabilitation services.
Wisconsin passed the first state-based workers’ compensation law in the United States in 1911, setting the standard for the way we handle work injuries today. Employees are no longer required to prove liability, but they also can’t sue their employers if they accept the benefits of their workers’ compensation. It is also known as a “no-fault” system.
The no-fault system works by paying claims regardless of who is to blame for an incident. This means that the insurance pays workers’ comp benefits no matter who is found to be at fault for a workplace injury. This ensures workers won’t have to prove their case before receiving benefits.
When an employee is injured at work, the first thing to do is seek medical care. When an injury is related to orthopedics, it is important to find a practice that specializes in orthopedic care and treats work-related injuries such as Orthopedic Associates of Hartford (OAH). The team at OAH consistently work with the workers’ compensation system and understand the importance of returning employees back to work as smoothly as possible. OAH understands the importance of communicating with patients, payors, and employers, and have the tools to do so. This helps to streamline the process and avoid unnecessary delays in recovery or claims processing.
The most common workers’ compensation claims include the following:
Injured employees can be denied compensation for many reasons, including:
Although the amount varies by state, claimants can receive replacement wages and compensation for medical expenses. Claimants may also receive temporary disability payments, which in many states is equal to two-thirds of their average wages, up to a fixed amount. A permanently disabled claimant may qualify for a lump sum or benefits throughout the duration of their disability. The claimant must be unable to perform their previous work duties or be unable to work at all to receive these benefits. In case of death, the surviving dependents receive the deceased worker’s benefits. On-the-job training, education, or job placement assistance is also available in some states.
In addition to following their state’s regulations, employers should also post notices advising employees of their legal rights. These must be posted in a convenient location frequented by employees during working hours. These notices typically tell employees if their employer is self-insured, display contact information regarding the company’s workers’ compensation carrier, and give details about available benefits. Posted notices should state that injured employees have the right to medical treatment and whether they can choose and/or change their treating physician, which differs by state.
When filing a workers’ compensation claim, employees should go over their state’s regulations with their employer. Regulations vary for each state, but the necessary steps are generally similar. Depending on the severity of the injury, employees may need to seek medical attention immediately. If the injury is not severe, most states set a time limit that can range from a few days to two years. Employers must typically provide a workers’ compensation claim form within 24 hours of receiving notice of the injury.
* This document is adapted from content written by Haley Bass and Concentra; it is an overview and does not constitute legal or medical advice. Always seek legal advice specific to your state and situation.