How to File for Workers’ Compensation

The protection offered by workers’ compensation programs enable people to continue to pay their bills and feed their families while they recover from a work-related illness or injury. Employers should handle a compensation claim for their injured employee, but you can apply for compensation on your own if an employer refuses to help.


A common first step is a visit to the doctor, and this should take place as soon as possible after the accident. The doctor will complete paperwork on their own for a worker’s compensation claim when they know it was a work-related injury. By law, the employer can require you to visit a specific doctor, but they cannot refuse treatment. The programs vary from state to state, but every employer must meet the standards of the state where the business operates.


Employers will typically complete a form with the employee for the workers’ compensation board to review. The form records the description of the accident, the injuries, and the time and date the incident occurred. You may also need to complete another form for your employer’s insurance company.


You can contact the workers’ compensation board directly and ask to file a claim if your employer refuses to cooperate. Perform an online search for the number of the office handling workers’ compensation claims in the state where the injury took place or visit the website of the Department of Labor for the listing. If the employer does not have coverage, you can still file a compensation claim through the state’s Uninsured Employers Fund.


The employer and the doctor will submit their completed forms to the compensation board for consideration. The board reviews the report and either approves or denies the claim. Denials can occur when an employer refutes the statement of the employee or if a doctor says they found no injury or that the injury could not have happened as claimed. If the result is an approval, the employee will receive compensation for their lost work time as well as paid medical care to treat the injury. It is common for the insurer to offer a lump sum payment to the employee to cover all expenses related to the incident.


You have the right to either accept or refuse any offers. A refusal of a settlement offer typically happens when the employee believes the suggested amount will not cover their bills. You can seek legal help to negotiate a larger payout. A denial will mean you need to file an appeal. Injured workers can appeal a decision on their own or with the help of an attorney.


The payments for accepted claims will continue until you return to work. You must inform your employer and the workers’ compensation department when you feel your recovery has advanced to where you can safely return. The employer may request you seek written approval from the company doctor before agreeing to allow you to return.

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