Workers’ Compensation laws were passed during the early part of the 20th century to save workers who sustained work-related injuries or illnesses from crippling financial situations that may result from the harm that they accidentally sustained.

Injuries and illnesses, and sometimes even death, were very frequent and most common in construction sites, gas and chemical plants, mills, mining sites and factories where workers used and operated heavy machinery and sharp tools and equipment, or were exposed daily to hazardous substances. Despite the constant danger, those who got injured or sick, in the hope of getting financial assistance, had to resort to suing their employers. Aside from the fact that majority of the lawsuits were decided in favor of the employers, these tort or civil cases also destroyed whatever good relationship existed between the employer and the worker.

The implementation of the Workers’ Compensation benefit, therefore, was a major decision that changed the plight, especially, of low and medium income workers. This benefit took the form of an insurance program and was designed to provide sure and fast financial assistance that would cover the injured or sick worker’s medical treatment, lost wages (due to days of missed work), vocational rehabilitation and death. Workers’ Comp also did away with the need of having to file a lawsuit in order to receive the offered financial benefits and it was given regardless of whose fault the accident-causing-injury was. But, while this Workers’ Comp contained a clause which stipulates the relinquishment of the injured worker’s right from filing a lawsuit against his/her employer for any further legal claims, the law still allows the filing of a lawsuit, especially if it can be proven that the employer had something to do with accident or if the injury were too severe so that the benefit from the Workers’ Comp is not enough (besides the right to file a lawsuit against the employer for additional compensation, the injured worker, so long as he/she is paying Social Security taxes, has earned the required number of credits and if the injury resulted to permanent disability, can also file a claim with the Social Security Disability Insurance).

Getting one’s Workers’ Comp application approved, however, can be a really challenging task due to the many different forms that need to be filled out, the documents (proving the injury) that need to be submitted, the need to file the claims application within the statutory period set by the state, and the resoluteness of those tasked in approving claims to deny applications outrightly simply due to technical mistakes, like a missed information box or failure to affix a signature, or lack of supporting documents.

If injured due to work or if you develop an illness due to exposure to a substance at the place where you work (or worked before), then informing your employer about the situation is essential.

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