It used to be established in this country that if you were injured while performing your job duties, your employer covered your medical costs through a program called workers' compensation. Workers compensation laws have required employers to carry this insurance since early in the 20th century, and in its early days the program worked well. However, these days it seems an employee's value to a company is no longer what it used to be. If you've been injured on the job and are having difficulty obtaining compensation for your medical needs, it is critical you understand where workers compensation laws stand today. If you don't have one already, hire an attorney--and fasten your seatbelt. It's a wild ride.
A little history
Believe it or not, workers compensation laws date back in history to the B.C. years. Here's a stroll down memory lane:
- Texts from ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures all note the responsibility of employers to compensate their employees for body parts lost during the completion of their job duties.
- In fact, even the Code of Hammurabi, from which many current legal practices are derived, had such provisions.
- During medieval times, lords were responsible to take care of their vassals who were hurt while in servitude to them.
- In 1871, Otto von Bismarck, leader of Prussia, enacted the Employers' Liability Law and established Workers Accident Insurance.
- Here in America, the first workers comp law was passed in 1911. The final of the 50 states to mandate workers compensation was Mississippi in 1948.
State of the states
Sadly, what began as a just, noble path has now deteriorated into a winding, nonsensical road full of pitfalls and dead ends. In recent years, changes to workers compensation laws have resulted in drastic cutbacks. Now, there is no guarantee that your employer will cover all--or any--of your medical costs, leaving you no option but to go head to head with the insurance company itself. Here are just a few alarming developments.
- Over the past 13 years, 33 states have reduced benefits. Some states' restrictions go back even further; Florida, for example, has cut workers comp benefits by 65% since 1994.
- While employers pay the lowest premium rates in history, employees have to battle for needed surgeries and medications that are no longer covered.
- The value of your injured body part now varies depending on where you live. For instance, if you lose your arm in a workplace accident in Alaska, you can be awarded up to $106,200; however, if this accident occurs in Alabama, the loss of your arm is only worth $48,840.
- Your benefits can be discontinued after an arbitrary length of time, even if you have not recovered from your injuries.
An attorney is essential
If your employer is denying or obstructing your workers comp claim, you are not going to be able to negotiate successfully with the insurance company on your own. You need the knowledge and wisdom that only an experienced workers comp lawyer can bring to your case. An attorney is familiar with the laws in your state and knows what you need to do to prove your case. In other words, he/she can leap the hurdles and navigate the turns on this wild road. Many insurance companies, once they know you are represented by a legal professional, settle before cases go to court.
Consultation with a workers compensation attorney is free. You do not pay anything until your claim has been awarded.
The workers comp system may not be the noble path to justice that it used to be, but an experienced attorney brings experienced legal navigation to its crazy twists and turns. Call and schedule a consultation today or visit http://www.hardeeandhardee.com to learn more.