Questions and Answers
Jeffery Ward answers common questions about worker's compensation.
What happens if I'm injured in the workplace?
I'm often asked by clients: What becomes of my job? Do I lose it? What happens during the time that I'm unable to work? Who pays my medical bills? How do I provide for my family? How do I pay my bills?
These are important questions. Of course you are concerned and anxious if you are injured at work. Let me explain a little about worker's compensation to help you answer these questions.
What is worker's compensation?
The purpose of workers' compensation is to provide a no-fault mechanism for injured workers. If you are injured at work, worker's compensation can assist you, until you are able to go back to work. If you can't resume work, worker's compensation may provide re-training to help you learn to do another job. Finally, if you are totally and permanently injured, worker's compensation provides a monetary benefit for the duration of your work life.
Do I have to prove that the accident was my employer's fault?
The worker's compensation statue is different than a negligence loss, such as an auto accident or a slip and fall accident. In worker's compensation there is no requirement to show negligence on behalf of the employer or a co-worker. In fact, in many situations, you (the injured party) may be the cause of your own accident. If the accident is not intentional, you are allowed monetary compensation as well as payment of your medical bills.
What are my basic rights?
The basic worker's compensation rights and benefits allows you (the injured party) medical treatment paid for by your employer's insurance company. If you (the injured worker) miss more than 5 days of work or are hospitalized overnight then you will generally receive 67% of your wage. (There are maximum and minimum figures that impact this calculation, 67% is a general estimate.) So you see that worker's compensation provides you some money for your bills and obligations.
Certainly you must be certified by a treating physician, to establish that you are unable to return to work. Sometimes an injured party is given a "provisional return to work" certification with certain restrictions. If the employer can provide employment with those restrictions then the worker goes back to work using those restrictions.
What other benefits does worker's compensation provide?
Another worker's compensation benefit is impairment and that's a permanent medical determination made by a physician based on the American Medical Association's Guide to Impairment Ratings. The physician exams your injury and performs an evaluation. Based on that evaluation the physician gives you (the injured party) an impairment rating which translates to a monetary compensation.
What if my injury prevents me from returning to work?
Now, I will explain the disability and/or re-training benefits. If you are unable to return to work because of your impairment, your disability may be higher than your impairment. That's complicated! To understand this idea better, let's consider two workers with back injuries caused by a work accident. One person is an office worker and the other person is a laborer who performs heavy lifting. Both have the same impairment, but the laborer can't do his job because of his injury. So the laborer will have a higher disability because he cannot go back to that same job. So he may be entitled to some re-training benefits or some additional compensation.
How can Ward Law Office help me?
I can help you by negotiating with your employer's insurance company. If negotiations fail, we will file a complaint with the Industrial Commission of the State of Idaho. We will represent your case in a hearing before the Industrial Commission by presenting our evidence and expert witnesses. I work to persuade the Commission to rule in your favor.
In worker's compensation you don't have a right to go to a regular trial. The Industrial Commission of the State of Idaho has exclusive jurisdiction to hear your case and to make a decision in your case. Certainly after a final hearing before the Industrial Commission, you do have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court in the State of Idaho.
When should I call Ward Law Office?
I am here to assist you and guide through this complex maze of regulations and statues. It's very important that you contact my office as soon as possible. It is better if you contact us sooner rather than later, although we certainly can help you later in the game as well. For instance we can help you choose a physician, if your employer sends you to a physician it's very difficult to get away from that physician if he seems to be slanted toward your employer and their insurance company.
I am here to assist you. I have 26 years of experience in worker's compensation. I have litigated many cases in front of the Industrial Commission and have settled hundreds of cases with insurance companies. We always provide a no-cost initial consultation. We handle worker's compensation on a contingency fee basis. This means that we are paid a percentage of your award. However, we are paid only if you receive benefits.
Call my office at 208-522-4088 for a no-obligation appointment.