You suffered an injury on the job. While you are probably aware of workers' compensation and perhaps the basics of how the process works, you may also have heard a lot of false and even harmful information along the way. These misleading part-truths or flat-out falsehoods could have come from well-intentioned, but mistaken friends or co-workers, or may even have originated from someone trying to intimidate you, but regardless of the source, you will want to get the facts straight.
To help ensure that nothing dissuades you from pursuing fair compensation, or from receiving the full amount of benefits to which your injury or work-related illness entitles you, you may find it helpful to familiarize yourself with some of the frequent misunderstandings surrounding the workers' compensation process, along with the truth about these matters.
Three common workers' comp misunderstandings
While there are any number of myths surrounding the workers' compensation process, several tend to crop up more frequently than others. Three of the more common include:
- Because I was at fault in the accident, I'm not entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
- My boss will fire me if I file a workers' compensation claim.
- I can take as much time as I want to file a claim.
Myth #1: Because I was at fault in the accident, I'm not entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
Not only is this false, but less-than-honest employers may utilize it in an attempt to dissuade an injured worker from filing or pursuing a claim. Workers' comp is a "no-fault" system. In exchange for your agreement not to sue your employer over your injuries, workers' comp will pay for your medical care, missed work and possibly more, regardless of who is at fault. There are only a few exceptions to this rule, such as if you were under the influence at the time the accident occurred.
Myth #2: My boss will fire me if I file a worker's compensation claim.
Workers' compensation law specifically prohibits your employer from firing you for suffering an injury at work. If your boss ever threatens to do so, this is referred to as "retaliation," and your employer would be subject to many dire legal consequences if he or she were to follow through on the threat. Both state and federal laws protect you in cases like this.
Myth #3: I can take as much time as I want to file a claim.
While the period for filing in Nebraska is fairly reasonable - two years - the clock starts ticking the day the injury occurs. However, there are exceptions to this rule as well, such as if your injury gradually occurs over time or if it occurred, but you were unaware of the severity. An attorney can provide insight into these situations and advise on how best to proceed.
Keep in mind, too, that the sooner you report your injury to your boss and he or she submits all of the necessary forms and documentation, the sooner you'll likely start receiving compensation. The generally agreed upon best practice is for you to notify your employer of the injury as soon after it occurs as possible or as soon as you become aware of it. If you do so verbally, following up with a written notification provides an official record.
I have other questions. Where might I find answers?
If you suffered an injury on the job, you are probably feeling more than a little overwhelmed. These are just a few of the misunderstandings common in workers' compensation. Once you have informed your employer of your injury, if you are at all uncertain what steps to take next, an attorney can help provide advice. Laws vary from state to state, so an experienced Nebraska lawyer who specializes in workers' comp cases will be familiar with the complexities and can help ensure you receive the maximum benefits you are due.