The Basics of Workers’ Compensation
What is workers’ compensation, and how can it help if you’re injured on the job? In this overview of workers’ compensation, I discuss how the process works and give you an idea of what we do as workers’ comp attorneys.
This is the first video in our series on workers’ compensation. There is so much information to be covered that it couldn’t be shared in only one video.
Video Transcript (Overview of Workers’ Compensation):
Hello, I’m Darrell Castle, an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Tennessee. Today, we’re talking about workers’ compensation in this first edition.
What is workers’ compensation? It’s a form of insurance that is provided by state law here in Tennessee.
In other words, employers are required to carry it if they have five or more employees. And if they are required to carry it, and they don’t, and they have an injury by one of their employees, then they can be personally liable for it.
This insurance covers wage replacement. That’s it’s real purpose — to replace wages lost through an injury and also medical benefits.
These are the wages lost once you’ve been off work for 14 days. Workers’ compensation covers 66.66%, or 2/3, of your average weekly wage. That’s what it returns to you. And it will do that for as long as your doctor says it’s necessary for you to be off work.
How Your Doctor Affects Workers’ Comp
Once your doctor says you’ve reached maximum medical improvement and need to return to work, you have to do that because your benefits will be cut off.
Sometimes your doctor will send you back to work on light duty. In other words, lifting no more than a certain amount or something like that. And that can cause problems, as your employer may say, “Well, we don’t have any light duty.” But that is a matter that can be resolved between the employee, the doctor, and the employer. This doctor’s duty is to get you back to work as quickly as he can.
It also covers full medical benefits. In other words, your doctor bills are all covered by the workers’ compensation insurance.
What If You Were Responsible for Your Injury?
Workers’ comp is also a form of insurance that has a very low burden of proof for you to recover. You don’t have to prove as an injured worker that anyone was negligent. In fact, negligence is not even a concept in workers’ compensation.
The burden of proof is simply that you were on or about your employer’s business. In return for that, you agree to a lower recovery. That is the pact between you and the employer.
The purpose of it, of course, is to prevent discord in the workplace and things like that. So you agree to accept money for your injury in return for not being able to sue your employer for negligence. Workers’ compensation is your sole and exclusive remedy.
Proving Your Injury Happened on the Job
The burden of proof is that you were on or about your employer’s business — that is your burden to prove, and sometimes that’s more complicated that it seems.
For example, if your job is to build things for your employer and you’re building things, well then obviously you’re at work. But let’s say you’re driving to work. Is that on or about your employer’s business? No, it isn’t.
Let’s say that you drive for a living. You drive a delivery van and you stop somewhere along the way and have a couple of drinks at a bar. Is that covered? No.
But if you’re in your employer’s parking lot, is that covered? Maybe.
If you work in a certain place and go to lunch, you’re not on or about your employer’s business while you’re at lunch. But let’s say your employer says, “why don’t you bring me back a sandwich from lunch.” Maybe.
These are all matter of debate, and matters of case law. But that is essentially the debate between employer/employee on or about his business. Simple negligence is not a concept. That’s what workers’ compensation is.
But let’s say you were not injured at your employer or at your employer’s work. You were injured by a third party. For example, let’s say you were driving a delivery van like we talked about before and some other driver causes the accident. Well, that’s a third party injury and that’s a good place to start the next video.
Help with Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Our Memphis workers’ comp attorneys can help you get the benefits you need and deserve, and we don’t get paid anything unless you win. Contact us today for a free conversation—we’re happy to answer your questions. Call us at 901-327-1212 or fill out the form below.