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What are the basics of workers' compensation?

No one goes to work thinking that his or her work environment will harm them. However, injuries and illnesses do occur, even in workplaces that are not considered risky or dangerous. A workplace accident or illness can be a very unexpected and shocking event for which a worker may not be prepared. Whether it was due to the negligence of an employer or a colleague, harmed workers are afforded rights and the ability to protect themselves in these unfortunate matters.

Workers' compensation was designed to provide harmed employees with the benefits they are entitled to for injuries or illnesses suffered in the workplace. The workers' comp system lays out the procedures that employees need to take in order to recover such benefits. In some cases, there are special workers' comp laws for specific industries, for example, railroad workers.

What are the basics of workers' compensation? First, one should realize that a workers' comp claim is different from filing a lawsuit. It is very similar to filing an insurance claim. It is not an action against a liable party but rather a filing that requests benefits. The purpose of workers' compensation is to provide injured employees who were harmed while on-the-job with a fixed monetary award. This monetary award is given to the employee, provided that he or she is eligible based on their claim.

It should be noted that workers' compensation is viewed as the exclusive remedy for a work-related injury unless he or she is able to point to a third party that could have contributed to the injury. For example, if a product or machinery used in the workplace was the cause of an injury, he or she could seek compensation from the manufacturer.

If you were injured in the workplace, it is important to understand what your next steps are. It is possible to obtain a monetary award for your injuries suffered. Thus, it is important to consider filing for workers' comp benefits.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Workers' Comp In-Depth," accessed Sept. 10, 2017

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