Being injured while on the job is a stressful and difficult situation. Many injured workers don’t understand the workers’ compensation process and are not sure where to turn to for help. If you were injured on the job, a Washington, DC workers’ compensation attorney at Regan Zambri Long PLLC can help you with your claim. We will take care of all the paperwork so that you don’t have to worry about making errors that could delay your case.
With more than 100 years of combined experience to our name, our highly respected firm is well-positioned to address even the most challenging personal injury cases. Our strategic approach has translated into million-dollar recoveries for our clients.
Workers’ compensation is meant to protect employees if they get hurt or become ill while on the job. The benefits are meant to provide medical expenses and lost wages to the employees as they recover. For example, if you are a delivery driver and get into a car accident while delivering a package, you can file for workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses.
In Washington, DC, any business that has one or more employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Since DC is a no-fault jurisdiction, an employee is covered by workers’ comp, no matter who is at fault for the injury.
There are three types of injuries or illnesses that you can receive workers’ compensation benefits for in Washington, DC:
However, there are some instances when you cannot receive workers’ compensation:
There are four types of workers’ compensation benefits that employees can receive after being hurt on the job: medical benefits, disability benefits, rehabilitation benefits, and death benefits.
Medical benefits are meant to cover any medical costs associated with your injuries following a workplace accident. This can include hospital stays, medications, medical equipment, and home care costs. If you travel for any medical treatment, such as going to Baltimore for a lab test, these costs can also be included in your workers’ comp benefits.
If you are unable to work because of your illness or injury, workers’ compensation offers disability benefits for the worker. There are four types of disability benefits:
Much like medical benefits, rehabilitation benefits cover the cost of any rehabilitation services the employee receives. This includes physical therapy and other types of treatments to help the worker return to work.
If a family member dies from an illness or injuries from a workplace accident, workers’ compensation benefits can provide death benefits to the dependents of the worker. Dependents include the closest members of the worker’s family including the spouse and children. These benefits can cover funeral and burial costs for up to $5,000.
In addition, families can receive up to 50 percent of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage, with a maximum benefit of $1,521.74 per week. There is no time limit on how long surviving family members can receive death benefits.
Your first step following an injury at work is to inform your supervisor or employer as soon as possible. Failure to let your employer know about your injury can result in a denial of your claim. In Washington, DC, you have 30 days to inform your employer about the accident.
Once you inform your employer, seek medical attention. Even if you don’t think you’re injured, getting checked out by a medical professional will help your claim in the long run. A doctor will be able to certify your injury is work-related, determine whether you can return to work, and recommend any further treatment.
When you are able to, you will need to complete the Employee’s Notice of Accidental Injury or Occupational Disease application (OWC Form 7). The form will need to be filed to the Office of Workers’ Compensation within 30 days of the injury. Make sure you provide a copy to your employer.
You will also need to complete the Employee’s Claim Application (OWC Form 7A) and submit that to both your employer and the Office of Workers’ Compensation within one year of your accident.
It depends on the type of benefits you receive:
Light-duty work refers to work that is physically or mentally less demanding than your current job duties. It can be either temporary or permanent, depending on your injury. It gives the injured worker a chance to go back to work while healing from their injury.
It is up to your employer to either provide light-duty work for you or wait until you are healed. If your employer does offer light-duty work, you will receive your regular salary instead of relying solely on workers’ compensation benefits.
Again, this depends on what type of benefits you are receiving. If you are receiving temporary partial or total disability payments, you will receive these benefits until the doctor allows you to return to work full-time. Temporary disability payments may also stop after 500 weeks, though it is possible to petition for an additional 167 weeks if needed.
If you received a permanent partial disability, the amount of time you receive compensation depends on the severity of your injury. For example, if you lost one of your legs, you may receive up to 288 weeks of benefits as opposed to only receiving 144 weeks for a 50% disability of your leg.
For permanent total disability, this will continue for the rest of the employee’s life, which is why it’s reserved for only severe instances. The benefits the worker will receive are two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly earnings.
The short answer is no, you cannot file a lawsuit against the employer for your work accident. However, there are times when you can file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party whose negligence caused the accident. Known as a third-party claim, it allows the injured party to seek compensation for any pain and suffering caused by another individual or company. For example, if a machine operator lost their hand following a malfunction caused by a defect, the operator may be able to sue the manufacturer for the faulty machine.
Once the insurance carrier and employer accept your claim, you will receive your first benefit payment within 14 working days. Benefits will continue every two weeks as long as you are medically disabled. Remember, only your physician can determine when you are healthy enough to return to work, not your employer or the insurance company.
If your claim is denied, your first step is to speak with an experienced Washington, DC workers’ compensation attorney. They can walk you through the appeals process and help you with your claim.
After the claim is denied, your attorney will request an informal conference with the Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC). The agency will try to mediate the claim to settle. If a settlement cannot be reached, the worker has 14 days to file a Formal Hearing with the OWC. A judge will then issue a Compensation Order within 20 days of the hearing.
If you still having trouble with your claim, your attorney can file an Application for Review with the Compensation Review Board within 30 days. If there is still a dispute, you can appeal the decision to the D.C. Court of Appeals within 30 days.
Remember, if the claim is being disputed, you will not receive any benefits until it’s been resolved.
Many employees are afraid to file a workers’ comp claim for fear of retaliation. They falsely believe that their employer can fire them because they got into an accident at work. But this cannot happen. According to DC law, an employer cannot discharge or discriminate against any employee who filed or is attempting to file a workers’ compensation claim. In addition, if a co-worker is testifying about your injury during a workers’ compensation hearing, your employer cannot retaliate against that employee.
It’s also advisable not to quit your job before filing a workers’ compensation claim. Quitting before you file a claim can be difficult to prove the validity of your claim.
Our firm is passionate about protecting the rights of injured workers throughout Washington DC. Our Washington DC workers’ compensation attorneys will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of your rights so that you can make well-informed decisions. We make ourselves available to our clients at all hours. At our firm, your workers’ comp matter will be treated as a top priority.
Workers’ compensation laws are very complex. If you’re having trouble with your employer, get the help you need. Contact a skilled workers’ comp lawyer at Regan Zambri Long today for a free consultation.