When you’re hurt on the job or sustain an illness due to work-related activities, there are important steps that you need to take in order to protect your rights and ensure that you receive appropriate compensation for your losses. It’s important to understand what these steps are and what rights you have as an injured employee. Let’s learn a little more about these, as well as how a Paterson workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you with your claim.
Understand Your Rights
As an employee who has been injured on the job, you have certain rights available to you. You have rights both to take action as well as to refuse certain offers. If your employer makes it difficult to refuse these requests or to exercise your rights, the penalties against them could be severe. While workers’ comp law differs in many ways from state to state, the following rights are fairly standard across the country:
- You have the right to seek medical treatment for your work-related injury or illness.
- You have the right to file a claim through the state industrial court or through workers’ compensation court for your injury or illness.
- You have the right to hire a lawyer to represent you for the duration of your claims process.
- You usually have the right to appeal unfavorable decisions made by the court, your employer’s insurance company or your employer.
- You have the right to return to your job if your physician deems you fit.
- You have the right to disability compensation if you are unable to return to work temporarily or permanently.
Rights Against Third Parties
While these are your rights as they pertain to your employer and the workers’ comp agency, you may also have rights against parties other than your employer who may have played a role in your condition. For example, if your injury is a result of a product defect, you may have the right to file a “third party claim” against the manufacturer of that product.
When you file a workers’ comp claim, you are filing for compensation for your monetary losses such as lost income and medical expenses relating to your injury. However, when you file a third party claim, you are actually filing a civil lawsuit through the state or federal court. Workers’ comp claims reimburse you for your monetary damages, while civil lawsuits give you the chance to recover compensation for “non-economic” damages like pain and suffering.
How to Protect Your Rights
Because you do have rights to protect you when you are injured on the job, it’s important to ensure that you in turn protect those rights. In order to ensure your rights, the most important step is to report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. Depending on the nature of your injury, you may not be able to file a work-related accident report right away if you need to seek immediate medical attention. But most states do require that injured employees report the incident within a certain period of time, from the same day to within a few days after the accident.
Along with notifying your employer of your condition, you also need to file a claim through workers’ compensation court or through your state’s industrial court. This claim formally notifies the court, your employer and your employer’s insurance company of your condition. After your claim is successfully filed, your rights are effective immediately.
Consult a Paterson Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Workers’ compensation law can be complex, so consulting a Paterson workers’ compensation lawyer can greatly benefit your case. Our team of attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter Davis understands the complexities of workers’ comp law, and we’ve been helping our Paterson, New Jersey community fight for compensation for almost 30 years.