Injured at Work? Know Your Rights!
You have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. Unlike most personal injury cases, a person who suffers an injury at work must assert his/her claim in accordance with the Workers Compensation Act. Under this Act, the burden is placed on the employer to provide medical care to any employee that suffers an injury arising out of the employment, or in the course of employment. However, in some instances, an employer may deny workers compensation coverage by claiming that you have not been injured, or that the injury you have suffered is not serious enough to qualify for Workers Compensation benefits. If a claim is disputed, you may stand to lose critical benefits, such as medical care coverage, financial assistance, and job retraining. Therefore, it is important for every employee to have a basic understanding as to their rights under the Workers Compensation Act.
When the Workers Compensation Act was passed, it established that an employer must provide medical care to any employee who suffers an injury arising out of either: (1) a Traumatic Injury or (2) an Occupational Exposure or Disease.
The first category of injury, known as Traumatic Injury, occurs whenever an employee suffers an injury that is caused by, or accelerated by, a work place “event”. In most instances, any injury that affects your ability to work will be deemed compensable. Commonly Traumatic Injuries range from: back injuries, infections, hernias, burns, stroke, fractures, broken bones, traumatic hearing loss, and traumatically induced cancers. If such an injury has occurred, you must file a claim petition for Workers Compensation benefits within two (2) years of the date of the accident, two (2) years of the employer’s failure to pay you in accordance with an agreement, or within two (2) years of the last payment of compensation.
The second category of compensable injury established under the Workers Compensation Act is known as Occupational Exposures and Diseases. In general, Occupational Exposures and Diseases are restricted to diseases that are, or were, characteristic of a particular trade, occupation, or place of employment. Since this type of injury sometimes take years to manifest, the Workers Compensation Act has established different provisions for filing such claims. Under the act, a person who suffers from an Occupational Exposure or Disease must file a claim petition within two (2) years after the date on which the injured employee first becomes aware of the nature of the disability and its relationship to the employment. Thus, under the wording of this Act, an injured employee maintains his right to medical benefits, regardless of when the last exposure occurred, so long as he files within two (2) years of the date he is notified of injury.
Accordingly, if you feel that you have suffered one of the aforementioned injuries it is of the utmost importance that you contact a Workers Compensation attorney to secure the benefits that you are entitled to.