Injury at Work – Employees’ Rights
Learn what your rights are if you get injured at work.
Accidents happen, we cannot predict everything. Sometimes they are a consequence of someone’s negligence, sometimes they are only a pure coincidence. Generally, each employer’s responsibility is to make sure that the environment he or she creates for workers is safe. But, in case an accident happens, workers are protected by law which gives them certain rights to find compensation for injuries in their workplace.
I have been injured at work, what should I do?
In order to protect your legal rights, you must report the accident to your employer. Usually, there is a certain period of time within which you are obliged to do it, but it all depends on the circumstances. Nevertheless, it should be reported as soon as it is possible. The next step is to file a claim with the workers’ compensation court or your state’s industrial court.
The rights of workers can be various in different states. However, there is a list of rights common for most states.
- The right to file a claim for your injury/illness in workers’ compensation/the state industrial court.
- The right for medical treatment.
- The right to go back to your work if allowed by the doctor.
- The right to some kind of disability compensation in the case of a temporary/permanent disability to work.
- The right to appeal the decision of your employer, insurance company or the workers’ compensation court.
- The right to be represented by a lawyer.
Apart from the rights allowing you to take certain actions, you have also rights to object in some situations. For instance, your employer may want you to use your own medical insurance to cover the cost of medical treatment despite of the fact that you have been injured at work. You may be also encouraged not to fill a workers’ compensation claim for a certain “reward”.
In both situations you have the right to explicitly say no. Moreover, remember that if your employer creates obstacles or you are harassed, and in this way you cannot make a full use of your rights, he may be severely punished. It is really important to know our rights and to be confident in using them.
What if it was not my employer’s fault?
The negligence of a third party can be another cause of injuries in workplaces. This “third party” can be for example a designer or a manufacturer of the faulty thing which caused your injury. The negligence of another party can be brought to court as well. This is called a “third party claim” and it usually is a civil lawsuit which is filled in state or federal court.
What is more, unlike in a workers‘ compensation claims, in a third party claim apart from compensation for financial loses, you may also demand a compensation for personal “non-economic” damages like pain and suffering.