If you get injured on the job, then it is crucial that you understand the workers’ compensation system of your state. Workers’ Compensation may be the only means of getting compensation for an injury at work. Here is what you need to know about worker’s comp in Introduction to the Workers’ Compensation Law.
Workers’ compensation is insurance that provides cash benefits and/or medical care for workers who are injured or become ill as a direct result of their job.
“Employers pay for this insurance, and shall not require the employee to contribute to the cost of compensation. Weekly cash benefits and medical care are paid by the employer’s insurance carrier, as directed by the Workers’ Compensation Board. The Workers’ Compensation Board is a state agency that processes the claims. If Board intervention is necessary, it will determine whether that insurer will reimburse for cash benefits and/or medical care, and the amounts payable.
In a workers’ compensation case, no one party is determined to be at fault. The amount that a claimant receives is not decreased by his/her carelessness, nor increased by an employer’s fault. However, a worker loses his/her right to workers’ compensation if the injury results solely from his or her intoxication from drugs or alcohol, or from the intent to injure him/herself or someone else.”
Other Approaches of Proving Fault
Not all personal injury claims involve negligence that is traditional. A plaintiff can still establish fault in various ways, including:
- proving intentional conduct;
- establishing negligence as such; or
- demonstrating the claim is bound by the “strict liability” proof standard.
Intentional conduct is behavior undertaken willingly, and with the desired purpose or with the considerable certainty of the results. A person who targets another and hits that individual in the face with no excuse will have involved in intentional behavior and be liable for battery.
Negligence essentially applies when there’s an unexcused breach of a statute. In this instance, the defendant is directly responsible for damages if the injury of the plaintiff is of the form the statute was meant to prevent, and the victim categorized according to the statute was meant to protect. For instance, if reckless driving (nearly always a code violation) causes harm to a pedestrian, possibly, liability will be established with negligence per se.
Also, strict liability applies to a very limited number of cases and doesn’t need defendants to be careless to be responsible for damages. In general, the only requisite in establishing such as offense is demonstrating the plaintiff endured a likely injury while being in a qualifying case. The most popular cases that involve strict liability are claims on product liability, but strict liability can apply to cases involving wild animal possession and strangely dangerous activities as well.
Workers’ Comp Benefits Explained by FindLaw also has a few details regarding worker’s comp in an excerpt below:
“What types of incidents are and are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance?
Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to cover injuries that result from employees’ or employers’ carelessness. The range of injuries and situations covered is broad, but there are limits. States can impose drug and alcohol testing on the injured employe and can deny the employee workers’ compensation benefits if such tests show the employee was under the influence at the time of the injury. Compensation may also be denied if the injuries were self-inflicted; where the employee was violating a law or company policy; and where the employee was not on the job at the time of the injury.”
Job-Related Injury & Workers’ Compensation – Legal Overview has the details on how worker’s compensation works. Here it is:
“What Benefits Are Included?
Most states’ systems will cover the following workers’ compensation benefits:
- Medical bills. If you have medical bills, they will be paid for to help you recover from your work-related injuries. However, keep in mind that your choices of doctors may be limited.
- Temporary disability benefits. If your injury prevents you from performing your job normally and, as a result, you lose wages, you may receive temporary disability benefits. These payments are usually available only after you miss several days of work.
- Permanent disability benefits. If you do not completely recover from you injuries, you may receive permanent disability benefits based upon the nature and extent of your impairment or injury.
- Death benefits. If you die from a work-related injury or illness, your spouse or children may receive death benefits.”
When a victim sues a defendant for negligence or tries to hold a defendant guilty for damages, there are a couple of defenses that can lessen the liability of the defendant or even remove it completely. The most common are the following:
- Comparative fault. In several cases, numerous parties are liable, or every opposing party shares a part of the liability. The law makes up for these cases by allowing various liability percentages to be attributed to various parties – for example, 60% fault to the victim and 40% to the defendant. In the majority of states, the law only requires the accused to pay a certain percentage — typically the percentage of liability attributed to them — of the damages of the plaintiff.
- Assumption of risk. Even though the defendant caused the injuries of the plaintiff, the plaintiff could be banned from recovering if the defendant raises his defense well. To win, the defendant should demonstrate that the plaintiff knew and appreciated an injury risk, but willingly faced the risk and was harmed. A common assumption of risk example arises during inherently dangerous or physical sporting events, like football. The participants may usually not get damages for injuries acquired in the game’s normal course.
- Employer liability (Respondeat superior). A worker who causes harm might not be legally responsible for damages only if the injury took place while the worker was working. And in this case, usually, the employer is responsible for paying the damages.
- Trespasser defense. While the occupier or owner of land is responsible for negligence that results in injury to business or social guests, landowners aren’t responsible when their negligence harmed an unknown trespasser.
Firefighter rule. A party who carelessly creates a danger won’t be held responsible to a rescuer who gets injured on the job while fighting the hazard.