Whether it be on a construction site, in a warehouse or factory, or some other place of employment, you are entitled to a workplace that takes reasonable measures in ensuring the safety and well-being of all employees. Unfortunately, many people still get hurt on the job, some with serious, even fatal, injuries. If you have sustained a job-related injury or illness, you are, in most cases, entitled to workers’ compensation coverage. Also, if your injuries were the result of negligence on the part of someone other than your employer or co-worker, you may be able to bring a third-party claim to further recover monetary compensation for the damages you have sustained.
At the dedicated West Virginia law firm of Hewitt & Salvatore, we have the experience and specialized knowledge about workplace injuries to most effectively fight for our injured clients. We’ll see your case through to the very end, exhausting any and all opportunities to recover the monetary compensation you deserve.
Workers compensation is a type of no-fault insurance that most employers are required to carry in order to protect their employees who may sustain a workplace injury or illness, sometimes referred to as an “occupational disease.” It covers medical care for treatment of the injury or illness as well as short or long term wage loss.
If you suffer from an occupational disease, you must file your worker’ compensation claim within 3 years of the last date that you were exposed to the working condition which made you ill or within 3 years of the time you knew, or a reasonable person should have known, that you were sick because of a workplace condition.
The medical benefits covered by workers’ compensation include all care required to treat your work-related injury or illness. There is no limit to the amount of compensation you can receive for your treatment and the coverage will continue as long as you need it. Workers’ compensation will cover medically needed:
- Doctor visits
- Physical therapy
- Medical equipment
- Travel expenses to and from appointments
You may also be eligible to receive temporary or permanent disability payments. Temporary disability payments cover those employees who will miss some work while they are being treated for their injury. The worker will be paid two-thirds of their average weekly wage up to $787.06 per week. He or she will receive payment until their treating physician determines that the employee has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning the condition has been treated to the point that it will not get any better. However, these benefits will only last up to two years.
Permanent disability payments are available to those who have either a partial or total disability that will impact their future working ability. Once the employee reaches MMI, the treating physician will decide whether there is a permanent disability and assign a percentage of disability. The employee can receive two thirds of their average weekly wage up to $550.94 a week for partial disability and $787.06 for total disability. For a partial disability, the employee will receive four weeks of payment for each percentage of disability. For a total disability, the employee may receive payments until they are eligible for Social Security.
Workers’ Compensation Claims Process
If you are injured or suffer an illness caused by work conditions, you should begin the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Notify your employer about the situation as soon as possible. Then, proceed to filing a claim with the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner. You have 6 months from the date of the accident causing your injury to file a claim, but the sooner this is done, the better.
Also, get medical treatment for your injury or illness as soon as possible. West Virginia law allows you to select your own doctor for treatment under workers’ compensation, at least for the first visit. Your doctor will help you recover from your injury or illness as well as be a fundamental part of the workers’ compensation process. He or she will evaluate whether you are unable to work and, if so, for how long. He or she will also monitor your healing progress and decide when you have reached maximum medical improvement and able to return to work.
You may have submitted your workers’ compensation claim and it was either denied or the award was an amount lower than expected. You have the right to file an appeal of this initial decision. The appeal has to be filed within 60 days of receiving the decision. It must be in writing. Send in a copy of the decision and a statement as to why you are in disagreement with it. Your employer and the claims administration must also receive copies of these documents.
Third Party Claims
An employer pays into the workers’ compensation insurance program and, because they provide this benefit to their employees, they are generally immune from negligence lawsuits. West Virginia, however, has the well established “deliberate intent” exception to this rule. A deliberate intent is found when there was an overt intention to cause harm to the worker. The more common conduct to substantiate a deliberate intent claim is that the totality of the circumstances shows an employer who had a callous disregard for the health or safety of the employees. A court will weigh different factors in its determination, including:
- Whether there was an unsafe working condition that had a high risk of causing serious injury or death;
- Whether the employer knew of the risks associated with the condition;
- Whether the unsafe condition violated the law or other well-established safety standard; and
- Whether the employee suffered as a result of the unsafe condition.
Additionally, an employee may have cause to sue a negligent third party for causing his or her injuries. If someone other than an employer or coworker, is responsible for a work-related injury or illness, the employee may be able to bring a third party claim against them. Common parties involved in these types of claims include:
- Employees of subcontractors
- Property owner or manager
- Equipment manufacturer
Providing Sound Legal Counsel to those Injured on the Job
Being injured at work can be overwhelming. You may have sustained serious injuries, resulting in high medical expenses and lost wages for taking much needed time off. With bills piling up and no money coming in, it can be difficult on focusing on your health and physical recovery. At the West Virginia personal injury firm of Hewitt & Salvatore, we fight for you because you deserve us as the voice in your corner, pursuing all legal avenues of compensation so you can focus on getting better. Contact our office today.