After suffering a severe workplace injury, you may have many questions and concerns. Some of those may be:
How will you take care of your family?
How long will it be before you can return to work?
How will you pay your mortgage?
Will workers' compensation benefits cover all your medical expenses -- even future costs?
Who can provide legal support and guidance while you are incapacitated?
Along with the trauma brought about by your injury, your mental and physical state may make the prospect of navigating a workers' compensation claim seem like an unachievable task. If you are in the area of St. Paul, Minnesota, you may find comfort in learning that an experienced workers' compensation attorney is available to take care of it for you. What can such a legal professional do for you?
- Explain the term workers' compensation - Workers' compensation is a complicated system of legal and administrative procedures to pursue benefits. An attorney can explain the difference between the federal laws that cover federal workers and employees in industries such as rail transportation, and state legislation that covers workplace injuries in private companies in your state. The laws vary significantly in different states, and a lawyer will know the latest applicable laws for your state.
- Explain your rights to compensation -- Workers' compensation is a no-fault insurance system, meaning that your company cannot refuse to compensate you, and you cannot sue your employer -- except in cases of egregious negligence. Your employer must have insurance coverage that will pay you monthly payments based on the severity of your injuries -- regardless of whether your negligence contributed to the injuries.
- Explain the benefits categories -- Benefits typically cover all medical bills -- including treatment, hospitalization and even traveling to and from the doctors. Additional benefits will be paid if your injuries caused temporary disability, or if catastrophic injuries caused total disability. Furthermore, you may receive vocational training to equip you with new skills that will accommodate the disabilities resulting from your workplace accident.
Can you get compensation for other damages?
There are circumstances under which you can file a third-party civil claim for additional compensation. These include the following:
- Employer's gross negligence or third party claims -- Your workers' compensation attorney can assess the severity of your injuries and their cause. If it can be proved that your employer's willful negligence or the negligence of a third party not connected to your employer caused your injuries, you might have a viable claim to file in a civil court. A third party can also be a manufacturer of defective equipment that might have caused your injury.
- Navigate a civil claim -- Your lawyer can advocate for you in a civil court in pursuit of additional compensation. However, you may not claim damages already covered by workers' compensation benefits.
After answering all your questions, and explaining the procedures involved in a claim for benefits, a seasoned workers' compensation attorney can guide you through all the steps of the process. If a civil claim is viable, a skilled lawyer can act on your behalf in researching the law, collecting records and interviewing witnesses. He or she can then confer with consultants, devise a legal strategy and conduct negotiations with opposing counsel and insurers.