In different countries and regions around the world, there are different legal practices and systems in place for different aspects of life. Every place operates a little differently, though there definitely tends to be some significant similarities in most (if not all) parts of the world and how they handle certain situations in the eyes of their legal systems. When it comes to the legalities of the US workplace, it is fair to say what while there are some significant positives, there are also some areas that could use some improvement. Workers compensation, for example, is just one area of workplace legalities in the USA that, despite the road being paved with good intentions, has some work to do before it becomes a sound approach (to say the least). In the US, the workers’ compensation situation is one that is not the weakest by any means, but could still benefit from some well-executed changes. So, how exactly does the workers’ compensation approach work here in the US, and how can it improve going forward? If you are injured at work, it (literally) pays to know your rights and the legal obligations set in place by your workplace to cover such instances, both for yourself and for them as a company.
Essentially, workers’ compensation processes and workers compensation claims alike are put in place to protect employees first and foremost. The process of basic workers’ compensation claims in the USA is relatively straight forward. When an incident occurs in the workplace wherein you are injured, it is important to report the injury immediately – even if it does not feel like a big deal to begin with. The reason for this is obvious: the sooner you report it, the better chance you have of successfully receiving workers’ compensation if it worsens over time. While the injury happened at work, and could well be the fault of the company you are employed for, it is important to back yourself from the onset, so that you have covered all your bases in the event that the injury worsens and ends up requiring action on the part of your employer to rectify the injury. This is crucial because if it is found that your employer was not made immediately aware, they might not be obligated to foot the bill.
After that, you must keep up with doctor visits and work status reports. A status report is essentially a sheet of paper that you are given after each medical visit that provides your employer on an up-to-date account of if you can work and, if the answer is yes, what you are and are not allowed to take on. There are three different types of work status reports: ‘No Work’, ‘Full Duty Work’, and ‘Light/Limited/Modified/Sedentary Duty Work’. From that point onward, you have potential income benefits that can be afforded to you on behalf of your employer in the event you are injured at work. Again, there are three types of income benefits (temporary total disability benefits – TTD benefits, temporary partial disability benefits – TPD benefits, and permanent partial disability benefits – PPD). In the case that your injury qualifies you for PPD benefits, you will receive them until there is a change in your condition that pivots towards the positive.
There are also potential medical benefits, including payment of medical bills and the like. Then where are the hearings and settlements that are often put into play if there is a disagreement between the employee and the employer as to the nature and cause of the injury itself and the response from the company in direct relation to the injury and going forward. Interestingly, if an employer has three or less employees in their command, they are not legally required to enforce or maintain any level of workers’ compensation insurance coverage in some states. While they can, they are just not legally required to. Additionally, some jobs are exempt from workers’ compensation outlines, meaning that some career holders are not eligible for workers’ compensation should an accident in their workplace occur. As you can see, there is a lot to unpack when it comes to US workers’ compensation claims and the like, and while this is an effective run down of the system at a glance, it is best to consult professionals who can assist you in navigating through the process.
It is no secret that around the world, different legal systems and processes are enforced to handle the same circumstances in their own individual ways. While workers’ compensation in Australia is handled one way, the workers’ compensation process in America is handled a little differently. As a professional employee, it (literally) pays to understand the workers’ compensation process in the USA, how it impacts both yourself as the employee and your employer in the event of an accident in the workplace, and what you should always be aware of in terms of changes or shifts in the relevant legislation. At the end of the day, workers’ compensation here in the United States is by no means fractured, but definitively has a long way to go before it can deem itself perfect (if that is even possible). While it is your responsibility to report the injury in the first place, it is the responsibility of your employer to handle the legal and medical process on their time and dime, not yours. That is your right as a hard-working American, and it is duly enforced for a reason.