Work Compensation: When Time Is Not on Your Side

Every State requires that employers have a work compensation plan in place. These regulations are in place for every worker's benefit so they can compensate a worker or their dependents for any work related injury or death. However in order to be able to receive these benefits, there are certain procedures that must be followed. Although these procedures may differ slightly from State to State the basic process to follow for workers' compensation are fairly similar.

The regulations that cover a worker's compensation claim only allows for the employee to file a claim due to a work related injury. This means that a worker's spouse or their children cannot lodge a claim for compensation. The only exception to this rule is in the case of death due to an injury or accident at work. In such cases the spouse or other dependents may file for death benefits and funeral expenses under the work compensation scheme. Death benefits are normally only rewarded to true dependents and not simply heirs. These benefits are there to help the dependents carry on living without the "breadwinner's" income. However, should a workers spouse re-marry their ability to continue claiming these benefits would cease. Death benefits will also cease when the main beneficiary dies. There are certain circumstances under which any dependent children may be able to continue claiming after the death of a spouse.

Medical expenses and a loss of income that result from a temporary or permanent injury are typically covered by this compensation scheme. Death benefits include funeral expenses even in the case of a life insurance policy being in place.

An important point for an employee to keep in mind is that an injury at work must be reported as soon as possible after the date the accident occurred. Any person that is acting on behalf of an injured worker can also provide notice to the employer. In some states, an employee is also required to inform the State Industrial Commission as well. Although some states may impose time limits on filing a claim (90 days in some cases), others may be a little more lenient. In the case of death, this time limit may be lifted. If a worker suffers brain injury or incapacitated due to an injury, then again the time limit may be waived.

Once an employer has been notified about an accident or death in the workplace, it is their responsibility to inform their insurers. If the employer and their insurance company accept liability for injuries then a notice of compensation will be issued to the employee. If the employer and insurance company deny responsibility then an employee's best course of action is to engage a personal injury lawyer. Remember, time limits are imposed on a work compensation claim and any action you plan to take must be done as soon as is reasonably possible. Time limits do vary from State to State and can run up to three years, so do not waste time and possibly deny yourself the right to a fair and just reward for your injuries.

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