Workers’ compensation is probably not what you think it is.
Workers’ comp is a system, set up by the Indiana legislature that is designed to pay you if you are injured on the job. If that is all you know, you probably think that the workers’ comp system is on your side.
It isn’t. Not really. It’s not on your employer’s side, either. Not really. It’s a bit of a mess. It’s complicated and frustrating. It involves insurance.
Most people who have a workers’ comp claim think their case is pretty cut-and-dried, and most of them are right. But any time you’re working with a system that involves any kind of insurance, things are more difficult and take longer than they ought to. Workers’ comp is no different.
Before workers’ comp came along, people injured on the job could sue their employers for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. But many employers didn’t have the resources to pay legitimate claims, and so injured workers often found themselves hurt, unemployed, and owing thousands of dollars in medical bills. And many employers found themselves put out of business if a worker got hurt. The idea of putting together a legal system that would compensate injured employees and at the same time protect employers sounded like a good one. It still does. Unfortunately, navigating through the workers’ comp system is a major chore both for everyone involved.
Workers’ comp basically works like this: employers are required to carry special insurance covering injuries and illnesses workers get on the job. There are exceptions, however, as there always are. Not all employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance. And in this day and age of temporary agencies and the like, it can even be difficult to figure out who your employer is. Most of the time, the temporary agency itself is considered the employer – but not always. So you might find yourself wondering exactly what to do if you work through a temp agency and are hurt on the job. And you can be sure that neither your temp agency employer nor its customer really has much motivation to help you. It’s not because they’re bad people, it’s because hey – you now represent a part of their business that isn’t making them any money, and they’d rather spend their time and effort on making money instead of spending it. Your file is at the bottom of the stack. You’re likely to get a runaround from everyone. That’s bad enough when you’re a customer trying to fix a service problem. When you’re in pain, you can’t work and you’re still incurring bills, it’s intolerable. All you want is what you’re entitled to, after all.
There is one other fairly common situation to keep in mind. We all know someone who is being paid “under the table” by an employer so that the worker can avoid garnishment for support, taxes or another debt. Or perhaps we know someone who is being treated as an “independent contractor” to avoid payroll taxes and withholdings. Or perhaps the worker is not legally permitted to work in this country. Apart from other potentially serious consequences (to both the employer and the employee), this situation leaves the employee uncovered for any injuries or
illnesses received while on the job. Workers’ comp only covers employees who are on the employer’s records as employees. Any person acting as an independent contractor, or who is for any other reason not shown as an employee on the employer’s official records, will not be covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Whatever the supposed advantages of such an arrangement, the consequences should an accident occur are nothing to ignore.
Let’s skip ahead a bit. Even after you figure out how to file your claim, and who is going to be responsible for it, the fun has just begun. In Indiana, your employer or its workers’ comp insurer is allowed to choose the providers who will give you treatment. Except for emergency services, all medical services for a workers’ comp case must be authorized by the employer or the insurer. If you’re unhappy with the treatment you receive from these appointed doctors, you can always choose to get your own doctors – but you will be responsible for all of those costs. There is a big exception to that rule: The Indiana authorities can order your employer (or its insurer) to pay for “unauthorized care” if it is determined that the employer-provided care was not adequate under the circumstances (there’s a big long legal definition of this concept, but this is what it boils down to). The key is this: If you don’t know your rights, you could receive inadequate medical care for your injuries, and you won’t be able to do anything about it.
Unless, of course, you hire a lawyer to help you.
I’ve been doing workers’ comp cases for over 21 years. Our firm knows the law, knows the cases, and knows the process inside and out. You’re unlikely to have a situation we haven’t seen before. And as with any other situation involving insurance companies, you KNOW that the other side is going to have lawyers looking at your case. Workers’ comp is no different, really, from any other kind of insurance – the companies selling the policies don’t make money by paying claims. They’re likely to delay, to deflect, and to do everything they can to avoid paying anyone anything as long as they can. Again, that doesn’t mean they’re bad people, they’re just doing their job.
So, let us do ours. Call us. We don’t charge you for the initial consultation, we defer the small flat fee to the end of the case, and earn no additional fee unless we make a recovery for you. So, you really don’t have much to lose. What you could gain, however, is peace of mind in knowing that your workers’ comp claim is being handled by a professional, one who is 100% dedicated to fairness to YOU.
And that’s us.