Answer: Workers' compensation benefits apply when and if you are injured on the job
If you are injured on the job, you should qualify for:
- Time off work while recovering
- Appropriate medical treatment for injuries sustained
- Compensation for permanent disability acquired as a result of your injury
- Vocational retraining if you're unable to return to your prior position
- If a worker dies on the job, his relatives are entitled to a lump-sum payment and burial expenses.
Each state requires temporary workers' compensation benefits to disabled employees, but those payouts vary wildly. For instance, Texas had a weekly payment maximum of $912.69 as of 2016, while Florida had a weekly maximum of $863. Georgia, meanwhile, was down at $575.
What if I wasn't totally disabled by my accident?
Well, there's another option. You can choose to pursue a workers' compensation benefits settlement, though you would be giving up some rights in the process.
Let's say you had permanent partial disability. This means that you were definitely disabled by your workplace accident, but there are still many things that you're able to do. You just can't return to the exact job that you had before.
If you also had surgery or your body will never return to its pre-injury condition, then you should consider pursuing this type of monetary claim.
Of course, you will be giving up a few things in exchange – the right to pursue future medical care, the right to connect your injury to any other medical conditions, and the right to claim total disability.
If you were under temporary total disability and your injuries left you unable to work for a length of time, you most likely received partial or total temporary disability benefits, or time loss compensation benefits.
If your employer didn't pay you those benefits (or didn't pay you enough), you might instead receive a lump-sum amount for what you're owed in exchange for not pursuing compensation.
This sort of thinking can also apply to unpaid medical bills.
If your bills weren't catastrophic and you just paid them as they came in rather than sending them to your boss, you probably want to get them reimbursed. In this case, your employer might offer you a lump-sum settlement in exchange for no further pursuit of medical costs or reward on your part.
What am I giving up by accepting a settlement?
By accepting a settlement, you are forgoing the opportunity to pursue a claim for total disability against your employer.
You can't go after additional medical costs; really, you can't go for anything else. That includes medical treatment.
If you think you're going to need a leg amputated, you might want to wait because you're going to need surgery on your company's dime. However, if you don't need surgery, a settlement is better than money that you don't have.
Either way, make sure to discuss the pros and cons of a settlement with a qualified workers' compensation attorney in your state.
Here’s my question: I fell on the ice in the parking lot of my workplace after work. So I was not on the clock when it happened. I didn’t lose consciousness, just had the wind knocked out of me. I had a sizable bump on my head. I saw a doctor the next day, who dismissed me and said I was experiencing weekend warrior syndrome. He didn’t examine me. Just sent me on my way. I saw another person at a different facility the day after. She checked my eyes and checked my spine. Gave me a pain reliever and sent me on my way. 1 week after the incident I went and saw a different doctor who gave e me a neurological examine. Took me off work for 4 days. I went and saw him after and had me go back to worker and wear ear plugs. I do electrical boards. On the 27th if February I went back to see him because I was just exhausted and my headaches were constant. He had me take that Friday off, and returned to work Monday. Still wearing ear plugs, but also sunglasses because of the lights. I have had to use 42 hours of my PTO hours for missed time. Here’s the big question; is this a workmans comp claim or is it a liability claim against the property since it happened outside.
Ian Pisarcik says
It’s hard to say without more information. If the accident “arose out of” your employment, then this may be a workers’ compensation fact. The fact that you weren’t on the clock means the accident probably didn’t arise out of your employment, but this isn’t necessarily the case depending on the state where it happened and what exactly you were doing in the parking lot (were you completing a work-related task, etc.).
If the accident didn’t arise out of your employment, you might be able to sue the business for negligence under premises liability laws. You would have to prove that the business was negligent in failing to remove the ice.
I would recommend meeting with an attorney in your area. Most initial consultations are free and the attorney will be able to go over the facts of your case and tell you which claim to pursue.
Levi Armstrong says
I find it helpful when you said that by accepting a settlement from my employer, I wouldn’t be able to go after additional medical costs in the future. One of my friends got a work-related injury that resulted in him getting his foot amputated. I will be visiting him later at the hospital, so I’ll tell him not to accept a settlement and instead look for a workers compensation lawyer to represent him. Thanks!
Ian Pisarcik says
Thank you for the comment, Levi!
Eve Mitchell says
Thanks for explaining the difference between workers comp settlement and a lump sum. My dad is hoping to get worker’s comp. He’s hoping to find a lawyer to help.
Ian Pisarcik says
I’m glad we could help. Your dad can find an attorney using our free online directory.