What is Workers' Compensation?
Workers' compensation is a no-fault system of insurance that protects workers and employers from some of the losses caused by on-the-job accidents and job-related illnesses.The system aims to help workers return to work as quickly as possible.
Workers' compensation provides workers with:
- Payment for medical care resulting from a work-related injury or illness
- Payments for a worker who is permanently partially disabled once maximum medical improvement is reached
- Payments for a worker who has a permanent impairment or is permanently totally disabled
- Payments for temporary indemnity benefits if an injured worker is unable to work and earn a paycheck
- Survivor benefits for survivors of those killed on the job
- Dispute resolution through the WCA's ombudsman, mediation and administrative court system
- If you see an unsafe work practice, report it.
- Be drug and alcohol free in the workplace.
- If an accident occurs, fill out a Notice of Accident form or otherwise notify your employer as soon as possible.
- Check with your employer before getting medical care (except emergency care). Your employer has the right to choose a doctor or to allow you to choose.
- When seeking medical care for your work-related injury, disclose that your injury occured on the job.
- Update the adjuster and employer regarding work restrictions.
Download the WCA Workers' Guidebook for more information.
I've been hurt at work. What do I do?
In general, you must give your employer or supervisor written notice within 15 days after you know that your job injury is connected to your job. If your injury, or some other cause beyond your control, prevents you from giving notice within 15 days, the period may be extended to 60 days.
The WCA has a standard Notice of Accident form that employers are required to post and provide for employees to use. The written notice requirement is waived when an employer already has actual knowledge of an injury. That typically occurs when an employer, supervisor or foreman witnesses the actual accident.
How can injured workers get the medical care they need?
Required care resulting from a work-related injury or illness is paid for generally at no expense to the worker. If you are injured in a work-related accident, your employer/insurer will pay all reasonable and necessary medical costs.
What happens if a workplace injury leads to lost time from the job?
Injured workers may receive temporary indemnity benefits if they are unable to work and earn a paycheck while recuperating. These benefits generally remain until the worker's medical condition becomes stable or the worker returns to work.
Depending on the type of injury and its severity, workers may be entitled to benefits if they are permanently totally disabled or otherwise have a permanent impairment.
Find out about short and long-term indemnity benefits.
When can an injured worker return to work?
An injured worker can return to work when the treating doctor says it is okay to do so. Even if the injury is severe and the worker can't return to work right away, it may be possible to return to work doing light duty, as long as the treating doctor approves the light-duty job description.
Find out more about how to return to work.
What if a dispute arises between an injured worker and the employer/insurer?
Disputes sometimes arise in the course of a workers' compensation claim. When a worker, employer or insurer disagree with one another, there are ways to resolve the issue. A complaint can be filed at the WCA which begins the dispute resolution process. A mediation is scheduled for involved parties, and if the complaint remains unresolved after such a meeting, the matter goes before a WCA judge.
The WCA has its own administrative court. In most cases, a complaint that goes before a judge will have legal representation on both sides. There are times, however, when a worker self-represents, something called pro se. In such cases, the worker must self-advocate and know enough about workers' compensation law to do so.
Find out more about the dispute resolution process.
What if I have questions about the workers' compensation process?
Ombudsmen explain how the workers' compensation system works. Ombudsmen are available at all WCA offices, and some are bilingual in English and Spanish. They can be reached by phone and are available in person. Drop-ins are allowed, but appointments are recommended to ensure someone is available. Contact them at 1-866--967-5667. Their services are free of charge.
Find out more about the ombudsman program.