Today’s network of state workers’ compensation laws evolved out of a desire to establish a system that could quickly and fairly process the claims of workers injured on the job.
We present here a basic outline of workers’ compensation law, with links to more detail on the specific statutes that may apply to your case. But we cannot say it enough: workers’ compensation law is complicated, each state is different, and the employer and insurance company are not on your side. It’s simply a good idea to have an attorney guide you through the process of filing a claim in your state of residence.
Workers’ compensation is Ashcraft & Gerel’s single largest area of practice, and our attorneys have spent the last 60 years developing the expertise and strategy our clients rely upon when battling workers’ compensation boards and insurance companies. We have successfully litigated claims throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., as well as nationally, and for workers who have been hurt on the job overseas or as maritime employees.
Overview of Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state but typically operate on a no-fault basis, meaning that recovery does not depend upon proving negligence by the employer. All relevant statutes are designed to provide monetary relief consisting of disability compensation and medical care for individuals injured during the course of job-related activities.
Each state’s laws also identify the types of injuries that are eligible to receive compensation. These include traumatic injuries that happen during the course of work, and “occupational diseases,” which are diseases or conditions characteristic of the job. (Mesothelioma, for instance, is typically classified as an occupational disease related to asbestos exposure).
It is also important to note that some state laws also make a distinction between employees, who are eligible for benefits, and independent contractors, who are not eligible.
Compensation for worker’s compensation claims can be broken down into distinct types—which, again, vary by state. (Please see our state-specific pages on claims in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.)
Types of Workers’ Compensation
- Temporary partial disability. A worker may be eligible for temporary partial disability compensation when he or she is able to do some work, either light duty, or regular duty on a part-time basis, but is still recuperating from an injury and cannot perform at the same level they once did.
- Permanent partial disability. Permanent disability occurs when a worker has:
- Reached maximum medical improvement (is stable and will not get any better), and
- Has stopped active treatment, and
- Is disabled to some degree, but…
- Is still able to work in some capacity.
This type of compensation is awarded for certain types of permanent conditions that do not cause the worker to be totally unable to work.
- Permanent total disability. To receive this type of compensation, an employee must be permanently unable to return to work in any capacity.
- Disfigurement/mutilation. Some states’ workers compensation laws permit the employee to be compensated for disfigurement or scarring, even if it does not result in physical disability or impairment.
- Death benefits compensation. Most states provide some form of compensation for survivors of workers who are killed as a result of job-related accidents, typically to replace their lost income. This benefit can arise not just from an accident that causes immediate death, but also when an injury causes death at a later time, or combines with another condition to contribute to a death.
- Medical expenses. Typically, all reasonable and necessary compensation for medical care for an injured worker is covered under these laws, including prescriptions, medical appliances, and treatment and reimbursement for mileage to and from the doctor.
Contact Ashcraft & Gerel for Help with Your Workers’ Comp Claim
The workers’ compensation attorneys of Ashcraft & Gerel work on a contingent fee basis, which means we do not receive any payments unless you or your loved one’s claim has been resolved in your favor. The fees in these cases are set by the compensation laws themselves, and have to be reviewed by a commissioner or judge before being approved. Please contact us today to learn more about filing a workers’ compensation claim.