If you’ve been injured on the job, you may not know what Workers’ Compensation is or how it works. Here is an overview of the program and what the claims process looks like.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is a program created and managed by each state Department of Labor to assist those who have been injured while working on the job. Workplace injuries include things such as burns, trips/falls, back injuries, concussions, carpal tunnel, PTSD, broken bones, amputations, abrasions, or illnesses due to chemical exposure. The assistance that Workers’ Compensation provides is often financial and pays for things like medical expenses or lost wages, but it can also provide more service-oriented help such as job counseling.
All private employers (including non-profits) in New Hampshire are required to purchase Workers’ Compensation insurance, even if their employees are relatives or part-time workers. Sole-proprietors, partners, and self-employed are not required to carry Workers’ Comp insurance on themselves.
I’ve Been Injured. What Do I Do?
If you‘ve been injured on the job, the first thing to do is notify your employer and fill out an accident report. An injured worker has two years from the date of injury (or date of discovery) to report workplace injuries or illnesses to their employer and up to three years to file a claim, but it is in your best interest to report the injury as soon as possible.
Once your employer has been informed of your injury, they has five days to file a First Report of Injury with the Department of Labor. If they fail to file in that time frame, they can face up to $2,500 in fines.
Get Proper Medical Care
Be sure to seek proper medical care for your injury while you are working through your claim. Workers’ Compensation is responsible to cover all related medical bills, and all parties involved want to see you recovered and back on the job. Unlike most states, New Hampshire Workers’ Comp allows you to choose your own doctor (unless your employer has a “managed care” plan). You also have the right to seek a second opinion.
Make sure to tell your doctor that your injury was work related so that it can be properly documented in the doctor’s report. An accurate description of your injuries will be very important to your claim. All medical bills should be sent to your employer’s insurance company handling the claim, not to you.
Get Legal Help With Your Claim
An experienced Workers’ Comp attorney will be able to walk you through the various types of benefits and what you qualify for. There are four categories of Workers’ Compensation benefits in New Hampshire: wage benefits, medical coverage, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits. If your injury didn’t impact your ability to work, then you may only be seeking medical coverage to cover your medical bills, but if your ability to work has been affected, then you will want to pursue wage benefits to replace your lost wages.
For a more detailed explanation of the benefits available in New Hampshire, see our blog here.
An attorney can also help if your Workers’ Comp claim is denied. If the insurance company denies your claim, you have 18 months to request a hearing at the Department of Labor to appeal. Both employers and employees have the right to appeal a decision. Your lawyer will be able to help you with that appeal.
And don’t worry about cost. Workers’ Comp cases are typically done on a contingency fee basis. This means that your attorney is paid a percentage of the settlement they are able to get for you (in New Hampshire, up to 20%).
For more info, see our blog on Workers’ Compensation FAQs.