Worker’ compensation, or workers’ comp, provides benefits to employees injured while performing work-related functions. Most states hold employers strictly liable for workplace injuries, but bar employees from bringing tort lawsuits against employers. That means if you’re injured on the job, the law considers your employer to be liable and your employer must pay you workers’ compensation benefits. The trade-off is that you can’t sue your employer for that injury. Negligence on behalf of an employer is not an element of a workers’ comp case. That means you don’t need to prove that your employer did anything wrong to collect benefits; only that you were injured on the job.
THELAW.TV asked five questions about workers’ compensation law to Glen Weiland, a workers compensation lawyer at Wieland Hilado & DeLattre in Orlando, Florida.
While the focus of these answers is on Florida law, the general concepts surrounding workers compensation law are similar in mosts states.
What should I do if I was injured on the job?
If injured at work, the first thing you should do is to report it to your employer and request that they authorize you to go to a doctor, preferably a specialist for the injury that you have.
What if the workers compensation claims company is delaying medical treatment?
If the workers compensation insurance company is delaying treatment, you should contact an attorney who specializes in workers compensation claims, who can file documents to force the insurance company to provide the treatment. Or you can contact your state’s workers’ compensation board. In Florida, that would be the Employee Assistance Office at 1-800-342-1741.
Can I choose my own doctor for a workplace injury?
In Florida, the injured worker has no right to select the treating doctor. The injured worker can select the pharmacy to use, but not the doctor.
Is there an appeals process of workers compensation claims?
If the judge rules against you, you do have the right to appeal the decision and ask the First District Court of Appeals (in Florida) to review the judge’s decision.
How should the workers compensation system by improved?
The best change in the workers compensation law that would make the system work better, provide faster care, and get people back to work sooner would be to allow the injured worker to select his or her treating doctor.