The worker’s compensation system is all based on state law. This means that there are 50 different worker’s compensation systems, none of which are exactly the same. To get good advice about what your rights are for your accident, you need to consult a well-qualified lawyer who is licensed to practice law in that particular state.
Even though the laws are different from state to state, there are some traits that almost every state has in common:
- Worker’s compensation is a no-fault system. It doesn’t matter who is to blame for the accident, although in some states you may lose coverage if you were intoxicated at the time of the accident or were guilty of violating a company safety rule;
- In general, you are covered the first day of your employment, and in some states, you may be covered if you are an owner-operator, even if you signed an agreement stating that you are an independent contractor.
- You can receive benefits when you suffer an injury which was caused as a result of your employment. States vary a great deal as to what proof of causation must be offered, how pre-existing conditions or prior injuries are considered, and how repetitive trauma injuries are handled.
- If you are unable to work, you get a payment while you are disabled from working. States vary tremendously as to how much that payment is, how the payment is computed, or how long you can receive disability payments.
- Your employer must pay for your medical expenses to recover from accident-related injuries. States vary a great deal as to how much control an employer has over an injured worker’s medical care and what must be done to help an injured driver recover from his injuries.
- There is a lump sum payment for permanency associated with the injuries sustained as a result of the workplace injuries. This is an area where states vary greatly as to how that amount is computed and what proof must be offered to show that a worker is entitled to receive a permanency award.
The decision you make about where to file your worker’ compensation case can have a huge impact on the course of your case. Some states have enacted “business friendly” reforms which tilt the field strongly in favor of the trucking company and their insurers, while other states are more favorable to injured drivers. While each state is different, the basic framework is generally similar state-to-state.