Sustaining an injury that is serious enough to require you to take time off work is a worrying situation in several respects. Obviously, there is the distress of dealing with the injury itself particularly if you are in pain, taking regular medication, visiting your healthcare practitioner frequently, or forced to endure a stay in hospital as a result.
You may be worried about your status at work will your career suffer as a result of being away, and what opportunities might you miss out on? Finally, there are the financial implications for your income level, depending on the nature of the job you do and the extent of the period of time you will be unable to work. Here are a few pointers as to your entitlements and how to get help.
The Department of Labor website has useful but only basic information on where to go to get help if you have been injured at work. For example, federal workers have access to compensation programs, including medical treatment, wage replacement benefits, vocational rehabilitation, plus some other benefits. There are a number of other programs that cater for other groups of workers: these programs include the Black Lung Benefits Program, a compensation scheme for energy employees who suffer occupational illness, the Federal Employeesâ€™ Compensation Program, and a scheme providing compensation for longshore and harbor workers.
Employees who are injured at work while working for a private company or a state or local government agency can apply to the relevant workersâ€™ compensation office in their area. This organization exists primarily to adjudicate claims for compensation and benefits, and though this can include some medical bills, not all bills are considered eligible for repayment. In the same way, loss of wages can be paid, but only in accepted cases. If you believe you may have a right to compensation of this kind, itâ€™s best to take professional advice from a reputable injury lawyer before making a claim so that you donâ€™t overlook any of your entitlements.
With the assistance of a personal injury lawyer, you will be able to file for loss of earnings with the court. A good attorney will help you understand your legal options, advise you about recovering damages, and provide you with guidance relevant to your situation. Among the more experienced law offices working in this field is that of David I. Sinderbrand, LLC, who points out that you are entitled to be compensated if you lose income as a result of your injury, with possible additional recompense for disability, impairment, pain, or suffering.
Courts and attorneys also cater for non-physical injuries at work (often characterized as workplace bullying), where someone causes you emotional distress by attacking your reputation in written form (libel), including email and via social media, or verbally (slander).
Calculating loss of earnings
If the injury you sustain is directly caused as a result of work practices or negligence, your employer may be called upon to cover income you will not achieve as a result of being injured. This can include wages, bonuses, commissions from sales, and other benefits. Loss of earnings has to be calculated and proven with a degree of certainty; for example, if you have pay stubs from previous work periods, then it is easier to establish your normal rate of pay. In addition, co-workers can testify on your behalf that you missed work due to your injuries, and hospital or doctorâ€™s records can also make an important contribution, particularly where you are claiming disability or impairment compensation.
Future loss of earnings
Should it come to the point where future loss of earnings is to be calculated, then it really is vital to have a professional advisor on board. This particular situation is more often referred to vocational rehabilitation experts and economists, and does not necessarily relate to your current earnings level. As a claimant, you would have to be able to prove that the probability of suffering lost earnings in the future is high, if not all but certain, and also that this loss directly stems from your injury.
Finally, there is yet another area that can be complex to resolve where partial lost earning capacity might be claimed. Very often, your medical practitioner will be required to give evidence in these cases as to your loss of capacity following the injury compared to your capacity prior to the injury. These situations are a mix of objective and subjective judgments, and amassing the evidence, and then deciphering it, is quite a major task. Itâ€™s worth getting help with an injury claim so that you donâ€™t lose out.