Workers compensation can do a lot to help you get back on your feet after a workplace injury, but it doesn't cover everything. Your injury may have complications that neither you nor the compensation insurance system could have expected, and in the months or years it takes for you to figure things out, it may be too late to put in an easy claim for more benefits. Before signing anything, have a look at what could go wrong by simply taking a standard workers compensation agreement.
Compensation Is Temporary Or Limited
The point of workers compensation is to help workers recover after injury and get back to work without suffering major financial hardship. Especially if the injury wasn't your fault, you shouldn't have to be without a paycheck for weeks or months at a time.
Unfortunately, workers compensation only pays a certain percentage of your paycheck by default. Although there are different rates depending on the state, such as South Carolina's 66 2/3% pay rate (listed under How Is The Compensation Rate Determined?), this can be harmful to workers already barely making ends meet.
Agreeing to the workers compensation rate is binding, but negotiable. Even with the negotiation chance, you still put yourself in a long period of hardship while filing the necessary extra paperwork. Instead, be sure to contact a workers compensation attorney at the beginning of the process. You'll need to sign agreement paperwork and meet with a representative at some point no matter your decision, so adding a lawyer to the beginning of the process can alleviate a lot of the confusing additional paperwork and and corrections.
A lawyer can also handle much of the official paperwork for you in addition to negotiating rates, making meetings easier since the attorney can deliver required paperwork to you. If being required to meet with workers compensation officials, safety officials, your employer, or other parties is a physical hardship, make sure to talk about compensation and accommodation with your attorney.
Talk About Other Parties Involved
Not every injury is a perfect accident with no one at fault, and depending on how severe your injury is, you may need more than what workers compensation has to offer.
Was the injury caused by someone's negligence? It could have been a coworker, a lack of safety equipment, incorrect or insufficient safety measures, or even equipment malfunction caused by the manufacturer. For major forms of injury that could lead to disability and high costs either immediately or throughout your life, you may need to seek a personal injury claim.
Some legal actions may invalidate or jeopardize others. To make sure that you're within your rights and not double dipping benefits--or to find out if you're qualified for programs such as Social Security or even Veterans Affairs disability, contact a workers compensation attorney, like one from Thompson Legal Services, to map out a strategy and start with workers compensation as a road to recovery.