Workers’ Compensation: Intended to Benefit Workers Who have Suffered Injuries and Illnesses on the Job

Each type of working environment has its own kind or risk of accident-causing injuries to employees. Risk of accident, however, which can cause severe injuries or even death, is always higher in construction sites than in any other workplace.

Some of the causes of dangers construction workers are exposed to every day include hazardous substances, sharp and heavy tools, heavy duty vehicles and machineries, great heights, hazards from ladders and scaffolds, electrical wirings, excavations and trenches. All these, plus the carelessness of some workers and employers’ failure to strictly comply with job safety laws, can result to accidents which, in truth, are actually preventable.

Though an injury can cause a worker to stop earning wages, it is a relief to know that he/she can avail of the financial benefits by Workers’ Compensation program. Workers’ Compensation is an insurance-like program that is mandated and administered by the state. It is designed to provide immediate financial benefits to workers who sustain job-related injuries or who develop an occupational illness. The cash benefits paid by Workers’ Comp cover cost of medical treatment and hospitalization, wage replacement, rehabilitation, retraining, disability, and death (which includes payment of benefits to survivors of the worker killed on the job). The usual wage replacement is two/thirds of the injured worker’s average wage; however, there is a fixed maximum amount set by states so that the benefits will not go over it.

Workers’ Comp pays benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury or illness. However, this employment benefit that is financed by employers serves as a sort of an exchange wherein injured employees, by choosing to receive the benefits, automatically waive their right to sue their employer for additional compensation.

There are limits, by the way, to the types of injuries paid under the Workers’ Comp program. As a rule, benefits will never be paid to workers whose injury was self-inflicted, who were intoxicated at the time of the injury, or whose injury was a result of actions in violation of the law or company policy on safety measures.

As explained by the law firm Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC, “Workers’ compensation (also known as workman’s comp, or WC) is a kind of state-mandated employee insurance intended to benefit workers who have suffered injuries and illnesses on the job. In order to make a successful workers’ compensation claim, an individual must show that the injury or illness was sustained in the course of his or her employment and was related thereto. Work-related injuries under the workers’ compensation laws can include aggravations of prior injuries and conditions as well.”

There are “legal guidelines for payment of workers’ compensation benefits. State law governs WC coverage, though some employees may be covered by other federal compensation laws. All companies must have workers’ compensation insurance. Unfortunately, some employers do not have workers’ compensation insurance despite what the law says. In Pennsylvania, for example, an employee injured at work while working for an uninsured employer may pursue benefits from the Pennsylvania Uninsured Employer’s Guaranty Fund. However, there are several deadlines applicable under the law creating the Uninsured Fund, so it is important that you contact an attorney immediately if you have been injured at work.”

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