What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that can protect both employees and employers in situations where an employee is injured or dies as a result of the job they perform. For employees, the system offers wage replacement up to a maximum set annually by the State and medical care from an Industrial Accident Board Certified doctor, while the employee is unable to work or unable to work at the same level as before the injury. These benefits are available to workers regardless of fault. Even if the employee is partially to blame for the accident, they can still receive benefits, except in some specific situations. For their part, employers are typically protected from costly and time-consuming litigation.
Who Is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Delaware?
Any employee who suffers an injury or death that is related to work can file for workers’ compensation. All employers with one or more employees are required by the state of Delaware to carry workers’ compensation insurance. The state imposes stiff penalties for any employer who fails to provide this coverage.
Additionally, if an employee dies as a result of the workplace injury, surviving family members may be eligible to receive benefits. However, there are some employees who do not qualify to claim these benefits. Independent contractors, domestic workers, farm laborers, and those who earn less than $750 in a three-month period may not be eligible to receive compensation.
In addition, though the system is designed to act as a no-fault system, there are circumstances in which the behavior of the employee may disqualify him. Employees who do not exercise reasonable care in their behavior or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident may not qualify.
If you are unsure whether or not you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, the workers' compensation lawyers at Morris James may be able to help. Our knowledgeable lawyers have experience with Delaware workers’ compensation claims and can help you decide how to proceed with your case.
What Kinds of Compensation Are Available for Delaware Employees?
Delaware workers’ compensation can provide assistance for a wide variety of situations. First, the benefits system can cover medical costs related to the work injury. The injured worker does have the right to choose his own physician, provided the doctor is certified by the Industrial Accident Board. The state offers a continually updated list of approved providers. Employees can also file for mileage reimbursement to help cover the cost of travel for treatments related to the injury.
The system also provides wage replacement when an employee is unable to work or unable to perform the same level of duties as before the accident. Employees are eligible to receive up to 2/3 of their average weekly wage up to the maximum set annually by the state. Wage replacement is available to those who suffer injuries that result in temporary partial disability or temporary total disability.
Each of the different types of benefits are subject to different standards and are payable for varying Delaware workers compensation statute of limitations. In some cases, commutation of benefits is appropriate. Commutation delivers the injured employee a lump sum of money. A commutation must be approved by the Industrial Accident Board. A skilled workers’ compensation attorney can help employees examine their own unique situation to determine if commutation is appropriate and beneficial.
What Constitutes a Work-Related Injury or Illness?
Employees are eligible for any type of work-related injury. Any injury related to the job that causes an employee to miss work may qualify, including an old or chronic injury that is aggravated by the job. Though the injury most often occurs at the place of employment, this need not be the case. Injuries sustained during travel for work, at a job site, or any time an employee is completing a task for work may be considered work-related injuries.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Injured at Work in Delaware?
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury or illness at work, it is important to act quickly to protect your rights. Employees should immediately report the injury to their supervisor and seek medical treatment. Even if the employee regards the injury as minor, it is important to have it evaluated by a certified medical professional. In some cases, even minor injuries develop into more serious problems. Prompt medical care ensures that the employee’s health is protected and provides important evidence for a workers’ compensation claim.
The state sets limits on how long employees have to take action to receive compensation. In Delaware, employees must report the injury to their employer immediately and in writing. Many employers have specific forms available to complete after an injury or illness. If an employer does not act appropriately or cooperate with a claim, the employee will have to file with the state industrial accident board. Employees have two years from the date of the injury to file their case. In these cases, and others, injured workers should seek the advice of our skilled Delaware workers' compensation lawyers.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Delaware Workers’ Compensation Claim?
While a lawyer is not required for a workers’ compensation claim, it is most often recommended. Workers’ compensation proceedings are legally binding. These cases involve a good deal of paperwork, filing deadlines, hearing appearances, and even oral arguments. Experienced lawyers have an intimate knowledge of Delaware workers’ compensation law and can help injured workers prepare and offer the strongest case possible. Often, claims filed without an attorney are denied. Even then, employees do have the right to appeal the decision and offer a vigorous argument for the awarding of benefits.
Additionally, there are instances in which employers or insurance companies act unfairly toward the employee. It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee in any way for filing a workers’ compensation claim. A skilled attorney can help employees understand their rights and protect them from unfair treatment. Workers’ compensation lawyers are experienced in dealing with insurance companies, which seek only to protect their own interests and their own bottom line. A lawyer can help injured workers evaluate settlement offers and negotiate with the insurance company if necessary.
The decision in a workers’ compensation case can have serious consequences for injured workers and their families. In most cases, the benefits are vital to both the continued medical care of the injured worker and the financial stability of the entire family.
How do I Select a Delaware Workers' Compensation Attorney?
Finding a lawyer you feel comfortable with who will look out for your best interests is critical to moving forward with your case. You will find many attorneys who can help you, but the right fit requires careful consideration. Here are four factors you should consider when you're looking for a lawyer:
- Experience: Understanding the law and developing effective strategies for clients comes with experience. The higher the number of people a lawyer has represented, the greater their knowledge of this area of law. Ask the law firm how many workers' compensation cases it has handled in the past.
- Philosophy: How does the firm approach a workers' compensation case? While you want an attorney who will work hard for you, you also want someone whose strategies appeal to you. Discuss their overall approach to the law and why they entered the profession. The answers will tell you a lot about your potential for collaboration.
- Results: No attorney wins them all, but a good workers' compensation lawyer should have some good results in their history. Ask about past outcomes in cases. If the firm refuses to discuss its results, consider it a red flag — they likely have limited past cases to speak about or do not feel proud of their record.
- Connection: This element may be the most important part of finding your lawyer. You'll want to know you can talk to them about anything. Schedule an initial consultation, which they may offer for free, and discuss your case. Gauge how comfortable you feel talking to them and whether they're engaged. A good attorney will ask you questions and want to learn more about your case.
Our lawyers have a combined 150-plus years of experience. They understand the feelings and uncertainty experienced by someone in your position, and they can help you through this time. We can help secure the best possible outcome in your case. Our lawyers give each client the personal attention they deserve. We'll speak with you about your case on a regular basis. In addition to providing thorough communication about the case itself, we'll strive to learn more about you and the circumstances that led to you getting injured at work in Delaware. We also know it's essential for you to discuss the recovery, both mental and physical, from your accident.
Our lawyers shape their strategies based on the details of each unique case. They decide whether to pursue negotiations or mediation, which are often better options than heading to court. You'll have input in every decision, and we'll move forward only when you feel comfortable with the plan. Our goal is to secure the best possible results for our clients, and that looks different for every case we take.