Workers’ compensation: what it is…and what it isn’t

Workers’ compensation is often misunderstood in terms of what it is designed to do as it relates to injured employees and their employers.  First and foremost, workers’ compensation is designed to provide timely medical treatment to workers injured within the course and scope of their job duties.  This treatment is provided upfront, and it is paid 100% on a compensable claim.  The idea is to expedite the process of getting the injured worker back to full strength (or as close to it as possible) so he/she can hopefully return to being a productive worker.  During this period, if an injured worker misses at least 7 consecutive work days because of their work-related injury, temporary benefits (in the amount of two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage) are also available, which is obviously designed to help keep the injured employee from sliding into total financial ruin while they are recovering and are unable to work.  Finally, an award of money and/or medical benefits may be available to an injured worker at the end of the case, which compensates the injured worker for the degree of permanent disability suffered to a particular body part/parts (medical benefits are available in cases where the injured worker requires ongoing medical treatment).

However, there are limits as to what can be obtained through a workers’ compensation claim.  In addition to being caps on what can be recovered in cash through a workers’ compensation case, there are no damages available for pain and suffering.  A workers’ compensation claim is not designed to “punish” the employer – there are no punitive damages available, and there is no mechanism to directly ensure particular accidents don’t happen to other workers.  Finally – even in cases where a person is determined to be permanently and totally disabled under workers’ compensation – workers’ compensation was not designed to take care of an injured worker for the rest of his/her life (with the exception of rare, catastrophic injuries, such as a physical brain injury).

There are many important benefits available through workers compensation, but because of the limits on recovery and the nuance of how medical treatment is addressed, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney there to guide you through this process to ensure you get the full measure of all benefits to which you are entitled.  If you have been injured at work, call Jeremy Dantin at (864)585-5100 or directly at (864)699-0146 and put the experience and know-how of Harrison White’s Workers’ Compensation team to work for you.

The posts on this website/blog are published as a service to our clients and friends.  They are intended to provide general information only and should not be construed to be formal legal advice regarding any specific situation and should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship.  Success in the past does not indicate the likelihood of success in any future representation.

Blog post by attorney Jeremy Dantin. Click here to read more about Jeremy.