Employers in the United States are required to provide a reasonably safe, nonhazardous working environment for their employees. In cases where employers fail to meet this requirement and an injury results, in most cases a workers’ compensation claim will be the most efficient way to handle the situation.
Accidents can also happen even when employers have made every effort to create safe and healthy working conditions for their employees. In our country, the workers’ compensation claims system will compensate employees in the same way they would had the employer been at fault in some way.
In some cases, however, there does exist the opportunity to the injured employee to seek further damages, such as from the manufacturer of a product that caused the injury, or from a third party who caused the injury during your work hours. In those cases, a different set of actions are available to you to take and you should consult with an attorney to learn about these.
In most cases, though, workers’ compensation will be the exclusive remedy to the workplace injury claim, and it is important that you understand your rights if you are in this situation. While these right do vary from state to state, as do the protocols surrounding their implementation, the following are a list of core rights that are generally recognized:
- You have the right to visit a medical practitioner and seek medical treatment in response to the injury or injuries you sustained on the job.
- You have the right to file a claim for your injury or injuries through the workers’ compensation court. In fact, it is illegal for your employer to offer any incentive to dissuade you from doing so.
- You have the right to return to your position at your workplace if your doctor or other medical professional determines that it is appropriate and releases you to do so.
- If your injury or injuries cause you to be unable to return to your job, you have the right to some kind of compensation for this disability to work. This is the case whether the inability to work is temporary or permanent, as determined by your healthcare professional.
- You have the right to appeal any decision made by your employer, your employer’s insurance company or the workers’ compensation court.
- You have the right to refuse to use your own health insurance coverage for an injury sustained on the job, even if your employer asks you to do so.
The legal system built around this area of the law is meant to ensure that employees pursuing a workers’ compensation claim can exercise that right without fear of reprisal or harassment from their employer. There are legal penalties in place for employers who engage in this type of behavior. If you or a loved one have been injured on the job and believe that you are being treated unfairly at work due to your attempt to pursue a workers’ compensation claim, you should contact a workplace law attorney to discuss the details of your case.