If you can no longer work due to an injury or illness incurred at the work place, you may be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. In most states, worker’s compensation (commonly referred to as “worker’s comp”) serves as a compromise between employers and employees. The employers agree to award benefits to injured and ill workers and, in return, the employees agree not to sue the employer for a larger amount. All employees – from construction workers and firefighters to office employees and delivery drivers – are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits, including full-time and part-time employees.
Worker’s compensation covers almost all injuries suffered while on the job, including back and neck injuries, sudden trauma, exposure to harmful substances, vision or hearing loss and repetitive-stress injuries, such as carpal-tunnel syndrome. Worker’s comp benefits will not be awarded to an employee with a pre-existing condition that prevents them from working, unless the injury is significantly irritated at work.
Worker’s Comp Death Benefits
In the case that an accident or illness is so severe that it results in the death of an employee, family members may be eligible to receive death benefits. Often times, spouses and children are assumed to be dependents of the deceased worker, but they may still need to provide proof of their dependency. The process for receiving death benefits is more difficult for extended family members, step-families and others who may be fully or partially dependent on the deceased worker, although it is possible.
Michigan worker’s comp death benefits are used to cover funeral and burial expenses and also to compensate for a certain percentage of the employees lost wages. The length of time the dependent receives benefits varies based on the relationship to the deceased. Spouses may receive death benefits until they remarry, while children usually collect benefits until they reach the age of majority.
Many states have time limits for applying for worker’s compensation and worker’s comp death benefits, so be sure to file your claim or consult with a lawyer immediately following an injury or death.
Can I Seek Legal Action Beyond Worker’s Compensation Benefits?
While worker’s compensation benefits are meant to prevent an injured employee from suing his or her employer for large amounts, there are some exceptions. If an employer intentionally harms an employee, the victim can sue for additional compensation while also filing for worker’s comp benefits.
Employees may seek additional compensation for intentional damage inflicted by employers, such as assault, emotional abuse or known exposure to hazardous materials or conditions. Other damages not covered under worker’s compensation include defamation, discrimination, invasion of privacy, harm caused by a negligent co-worker, damage to property and sexual harassment. Because the laws and limitations to worker’s compensation benefits vary by state, be sure to contact a Michigan worker’s comp lawyer before filing your claim.
What to Do When an Employer Refutes Your Claim
Some employers may try to prevent employees from filing worker’s compensation claims or even punish them for doing so. Employers will commonly fire, demote, isolate, threaten, discipline or take other adverse actions against an employee who is seeking worker’s comp benefits. Filing for worker’s compensation benefits is your right as an employee and is not punishable by your employer. If you believe your employer is using any of these illegal tactics, report the abuse to a Detroit worker’s comp lawyer as soon as possible.
About the Author
Mr. Gene Zamler is the founder of the law firm of Zamler, Mellen & Shiffman, P.C. He has been a practicing partner for 41 years and is one of the leading Michigan personal injury attorneys. At Zamler, Mellen & Shiffman, P.C., our Michigan worker’s comp lawyers know how to use the law to pursue benefits for injured workers. Our Michigan personal injury lawyers have helped over 150,000 people and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients in personal injury cases.