Workplace Injury? Call (203) 877-9911
If you suffer an injury while working you are entitled to medical and financial benefits commonly referred to as worker compensation benefits. This is true regardless of fault. For example, if you fall and break your leg at work because you forgot to tie your shoes, you are still eligible to receive worker compensation benefits. However, in no situation are you entitled to compensation for pain and suffering.
What happens after I am injured at work in Connecticut?
Following a workplace injury you are entitled to have your medical bills paid and receive a portion of your wages (75% of your after tax average weekly wages after deductions for federal and state taxes as well as FICA deductions) while you are out of work recuperating from your injury.
You are also entitled to be paid benefits for any permanent impairment you suffered. If you are released by your doctor for “light or restricted duty” and your employer does not have that type of work you are eligible for benefits while you are looking for a new job. In addition, you may be eligible for benefits if you take a lower paying job or are unable to find a job after your permanent impairment benefits expire.
Your worker compensation claim “comp claim” remains open unless you enter into a full and final settlement with your employer and its insurance company. If you suffer a future recurrence or relapse of your work related injury, you are still entitled to medical treatment and financial benefits if your comp claim is still open.
Do I need a lawyer?
In many instances, if you suffer a minor injury, and are out of work for only a day or two, you can handle this type of case yourself.
However, if you suffer any type of back injury, these injuries tend to be chronic and flare up year after year, or a doctor recommends a MRI to determine if you have a bulging, protruding or herniated disc, you could benefit from having an experienced worker compensation attorney. The same is true for any other bodily injury where surgery is recommended.
What your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier won’t tell you
If you are injured during the course of your employment, your employer’s worker compensation insurance carrier will pay for your medical treatment. The insurance company will assign a representative to your case commonly referred to as the adjuster. While most adjusters are polite their duty of loyalty is to your employer and to the insurance company’s bottom line. Most adjusters will not inform you of the following important information:
You can choose your doctor with some caveats. If your employer has designated a medical practitioner your initial visit must be with that physician. Further, if your employer has established a preferred provider organization or “PPO” plan you must chose a doctor participating in that plan.
You are entitled to an evaluation to determine if you have suffered a permanent impairment for which you can receive additional financial benefits.
You are entitled to travel expense reimbursement to go to and from medical appointments, treatment and testing. As of January 1, 2013 the mileage reimbursement rate is .56.5 cents per mile. There is a standard mileage form on line at the CT Worker Compensation website.
You should file a formal Notice of Injury also known as a Form 30C Claim form. This form should be sent by certified mail to both your employer and the worker compensation district where the injury occurred. Simply filling out your employer’s “accident report” is not sufficient. The Form 30C ensures that you have properly filed a worker compensation claim, which if timely filed, satisfies the statute of limitations.
You should have a Voluntary Agreement known as a “VA” drafted and executed by you and the insurance company. The VA is an official worker compensation form which establishes the calculations to determine the worker compensation benefit rate. It also includes the names and address of the injured person, employer, insurance carrier, date of injury, and description of the injury. It is not a final settlement and it says so on the VA form.
The attorney fees for a worker compensation claim are 20%. This is significantly less than 33.33 fees normally charged for other personal injury claims. Further, this fee is contingent or depends upon the attorney obtaining permanent impairment benefits for you. The fee is also charged if the attorney is able to settle your case by of a full and final stipulation. There is no fee taken while you are recuperating from your initial injury and are receiving out of work temporary total (TT) disability benefits. The only exception would be if your employer refuses to pay TT benefits because it denies the injury occurred at work. In that case a hearing would be held and if you prevailed the attorney would be entitled to 20% of the TT benefits up until the date of the hearing.
You are entitled to benefits even if you have a pre-existing injury. Your employer takes you in the state of health that if finds you. Meaning, if it is shown that the work related event substantially aggravated a pre-existing condition your employer’s insurance carrier cannot refuse to pay your worker compensation claim. It does become more complicated if you have a pre-existing impairment rating to the same body part and received compensation for it. In that situation, your employer would only be responsible for the increase of the impairment rating amount. If you were not compensated for the prior injury, your employer would be responsible for the entire impairment rating.
Connecticut Work Injuries Lawyer
Attorney Mark DellaValle aids individuals who have been involved in work injuries. If you need legal help, please call Mark for a free consultation at (203) 877-9911.