Roughly 3% of workers suffer from work-related injuries or illnesses every year in the United States, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s almost 3 million employees who develop some type of injury or illness as a result of their job.
Considering the high cost of health care, that means many workers can face unexpected financial stress simply from going to work. The good news is that workers’ compensation insurance can help cover costs associated with work injuries and illnesses. The key is to get the process started right away.
David Berkower, DO, and the health professionals at Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation are experts in treating workplace-related injuries. Not only can they help you recover as quickly as possible, but they can help you deal with the workers’ compensation process. If you’ve had an injury at work, here’s what you need to know about workers’ compensation insurance.
How workers’ comp works
Workers’ compensation insurance differs from regular health insurance in a couple of key ways. First, workers’ comp is insurance that’s taken out and maintained by your employer. It’s not a policy you choose on your own. Most employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance in place for their employees.
Second, it’s the employer who starts the claim process with the insurance company. While you need to report your injury as soon as possible — within 30 days to avoid having your claim automatically denied — it’s the employer’s responsibility to then submit that claim to the insurance company that provides workers’ comp coverage.
Another important difference is that while personal health insurance covers only your health care costs, workers’ comp covers other costs, too. Depending on your injury, you may qualify for temporary disability, retraining, physical or occupational training, and other compensation. If your injury prevents you from working, temporary disability replaces two-thirds of your salary, up to a maximum of $1,011 for Florida employees for 2021.
Common injuries covered by workers’ comp
Many people think of workplace injuries as major injuries that develop from a traumatic accident, such as a fall from a high ladder or an accident involving machinery. But workers’ comp also covers other injuries and illnesses, including:
- Chemical exposure
- Asbestosis exposure
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back pain
- Hearing loss
- Knee problems
In essence, workers’ compensation insurance covers virtually any injury or illness you develop as a result of your job duties or your workplace environment. The major exception is that your injury won’t be covered if it happened while you were intoxicated or under the influence of nonprescribed drugs.
Workplace injuries are common in more dangerous work environments, but they can happen in office environments as well, especially injuries that involve repetitive use of the hands or prolonged periods of standing or sitting.
Treating work-related injuries
The medical treatment you need will depend on the type of injury, the extent of it, and how the injury affects your ability to do your job. Treatment begins with a thorough medical examination. As an experienced workers’ comp doctor, Dr. Berkower is skilled in performing workers’ comp assessments to ensure the patient gets the most appropriate care for their needs.
Once a treatment plan has been outlined and approved, you’ll see Dr. Berkower on a regular basis while your injury or illness is treated. Regular assessments will help determine when you can safely return to work or if you might need additional help, such as occupational therapy, workplace accommodations, or retraining.
If you’re injured as a result of your job, the worst thing you can do is ignore it. Not only can that allow the condition to worsen over time, but you could have a harder time making a workers’ compensation claim and qualifying for benefits in the future. Remember, injuries or illnesses must be reported within 30 days, but ideally as soon as they occur.
Being injured on the job can be stressful, but having an experienced physician on your side can help. If you have a workplace injury or illness, book an appointment online or over the phone with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.