Who Pays for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workersí compensation benefits must be available to all employees under the Workersí Compensation Act. Most states have their own workersí compensation statutes that require employers to have workersí compensation insurance coverage for their employees. This type of insurance is liability insurance to protect/cover employers in case one of their employees is injured (nonfatal or fatal) during the course of his or her employment (while on the job). Workersí compensation benefits may cover payment for injuries sustained by the employee, emergency/future medical treatments, therapy, lost earnings and death benefits for family members. Also, in the insurance policy contract, employers must pay the premium for each employee. The premium per employee is usually based on the gross amount of wages that employee earns on an annual basis.
When a workers compensation claim occurs, the insurance pays the employee from the companyís policy. The company may be insured in a few different ways; the type ó or origin/source of the insurance depends on the jurisdiction you are in and the specific statutory conditions in that state. The insurance mandated by statute may be a fund managed by the government, a private insurance company or the employer may be self-insured (meaning, the company has no outside insurance and is held responsible for their own financial liabilities). Along these lines, in some states, self-insured companies may have an insurance contract that limits their financial liability to an employee up to a specific amount. This is to protect the company from detrimental losses, or total loss of the companyís finances. This type of contract may not be permitted by statute in some states, it depends on the statutory conditions for workersí compensation insurance in the jurisdiction in which you are located.
Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Cover Only Injuries, or Also Long-term Problems and Illnesses?
All employees are entitled to workers compensation benefits if they are injured while working in the United States. The injury may be due to an accident that occurred while working or an illness that is related to the employeeís occupation/trade. Workersí compensation benefits covers more than treatment for physical injuries that occur while working. Other benefits included may be:
- Lost wages (up to ninety percent in most states), that may include permanent or temporary wage replacement or payment of lost earnings to survivors in the case of the employeeís death
- Healthcare, medical treatment, therapy services rehabilitation and any medical devices (such as prosthetics) that may be deemed medically necessary. This includes immediate treatment and future treatments.
- Disability benefits, for temporary or permanent disabilities
- Death benefits to the deceased employeeís survivors.
The amount of benefits, types of injuries that receive benefits and length of time that the benefits may be paid will be specified by state law. Generally, most statutes will provide benefits for medical treatments as long as the care received is for improvement, or rehabilitation. Once an injury is classified as permanent and static (progress is at a standstill), some jurisdictions will not extend benefits for employees. It is important to speak to an attorney familiar with the workersí compensation statute in your area to discuss your situation and options.
I Have Been Injured By Medication My Doctor Gave Me, Do I Have a Claim?
Unfortunately, not all medications available on the market are safe to persons taking them. Many drugs benefit the user in the way they are intended. However, drugs that do not act as intended and cause serious harm to the user are known as dangerous drugs. If you or a loved once has been injured by using a dangerous drug, you may have a claim for the injuries you have suffered. It is important to seek an attorney to discuss and potential claims you may have.
Victims of dangerous medications usually have a personal injury claim. Yet, additional claims may be appropriate depending on the facts of your case. Other claims may be medical negligence and wrongful death. If you have an action for personal injuries caused by using a harmful medication, there are a few legal claims that may be possible. You may have a claim against the manufacturer of the drug, the doctor who prescribed you the drug and/or the pharmacist who dispensed the drug. If you have a claim against the manufacturer of the dangerous drug, you may have a claim of warranty fraud or a failure to warn claim. In a failure to warn action, the plaintiff (injured party or family member of an injured party) must show that the company knew about the harmful side effects and/or injuries that could occur when taking the drug. The company then failed to warn potential victims or doctors of the probable injuries. The manufacturer may also have issued warnings listing possible risks of taking the medication, however these warnings may have minimized the dangers or not described the dangers adequately, these actions may also fall under a failure to warn. Either by failing to warn potential victims or falsifying information, the company placed the harmful drug on the market.
Additionally, injured persons may have a claim against their doctor for prescribing them the dangerous medication that caused their injury. In some cases the physician may have ignored warnings about possible risks and likewise failed to warn patients of these risks. The doctor may also have failed to act as a reasonable doctor would in a similar situation by not monitoring the party using the drug and/or not recognizing symptoms of injuries until it was too late. These actions may be for professional negligence.
What Type of Damages Can I Seek in a Personal Injury Claim?
If a medication has caused you injury, you will most likely be seeking financial compensation (damages) for your injuries. In order for the court to award damages, you will have to prove the four elements of a personal injury tort case. The four elements are that the defendant owed a duty to you (the plaintiff), that duty was breached by the defendant, the breach caused the injury you sustained and that you were, in fact, injured as a result of taking the dangerous medication. If you have proved your case, the court will look at the amount of loss you have incurred, such as costs of medical care and treatment, loss of earnings, the severity of the injuries suffered, the amount of future assistance you may need and other factors depending on the facts of your case. In some cases, the court or jury may also award punitive damages (in addition to compensatory damages). Punitive damages will often consider the amount of pain and suffering the victim experienced. These types of damages are intended to punish the defendants for their wrongdoing, as pain and suffering can never be sufficiently compensated.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.