Injured Workers Face Risk of Retaliation

The workers’ compensation benefits program allows workers to file claims without having to prove fault. This gives the employee the right to collect compensation for lost wages and medical costs without having to go through the civil process of filing a lawsuit. While there are many benefits to the workers’ compensation system, it is also riddled with complications and issues for those who file. In addition to suffering from reduced access to claims or funds, recent reports indicate that many workers may also face retaliation from their employers.

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Filing a workers’ compensation claim requires medical documentation as well as additional paperwork to ensure timely and accurate recovery. When you or someone you love is faced with the devastating consequences of a work-related injury, remember that you are entitled to benefits, regardless of negligence or fault. Our Asheville workers’ compensation attorneys are dedicated to providing strategic counsel and advocacy and helping victims and their families recover the benefits they deserve.

According to a recent report, the number of workplace injuries has dropped by 31% over the last 10 years. While optimists may see this as a sign that workplace conditions are improving, others have identified a more sinister reason for the drop in claims. Some workers believe that companies are retaliating against those who file claims for workers compensation benefits. Though workers’ compensation claims have dropped, there were 100 state and federal retaliation claims, double the rate of the previous year.

While employers may claim that the decline in injury claims is indicative of a safer work environment, unions and workers’ rights advocates assert that the claims process discourages workers from filing injury claims. Even the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found that too many injuries have gone unreported. Employers and companies have been reminded that federal law prevents retaliation against employees who file workers’ compensation claims.

OSHA representatives have also stated that the majority of accidents arise out of unsafe working conditions, not worker negligence. This could leave companies liable for fines and other violations if a worker injury leads to an investigation. Dangerous job sites can result in a number of injuries. The top five reasons for disability were overexertion, falls, injuries from climbing or bending, fall to a lower level and being struck with an object.

For employers, a workers’ compensation claim could result in lost hours and payouts for medical expenses. Though safety inspections and crackdowns may improve worksite safety, other legislation has made it more difficult to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. In some cases, injuries were left unreported because they weren’t identified for months or ears. For example, exposure to harmful chemicals may not be immediately apparent.

Some employers have responded to injuries saying that it is the worker’s fault, even penalizing them for bringing a claim. In the unstable job market, many employees are afraid to bring claims because of the potential consequences they could face. Ultimately, this is counter to the goals of the workers’ compensation which aims to quickly bring relief to workers injured on the job. Workers’ compensation claims can be complicated and require an experienced advocate to protect our rights, review your case and present all necessary documentation to support your claim.

If you or someone you love has suffered a work accident or injury, contact the Lee Law Offices at 1-800-887-1965 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your right to benefits.

More Blog Entries:

New Legislation Aims to Bolster OSHA Role in Worker Safety, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 25, 2013

Acupuncture May Provide Relief for Workers With Chronic Pain, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, July 28, 2013

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