Workers’ compensation is a legal remedy whereby an employee who is personally injured on the job may be entitled to certain benefits. These benefits may include medical expenses for the injured party, indemnity benefits, occupational rehabilitation, and/or death benefits to a family experiencing loss after a work accident. These benefits are the obligation of the employer and are paid directly to the injured employee by the employer or its workers’ compensation insurance company. Every employer, unless legally exempted, is responsible for the medical care and the payment of lost wages to any employee who is injured while in the course and scope of his or her employment.
The workers’ compensation law covers both mental and physical injuries from either accidents or occupational diseases. An accident is defined by the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act as an “unexpected or unforeseen actual, identifiable, precipitous event happening suddenly or violently, with or without human fault, and directly producing at the time objective findings of an injury that is more than simply a gradual deterioration or progressive degeneration.” An occupational disease is defined by the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act as only that “disease or illness which is due to causes and conditions characteristic of and peculiar to the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment in which the employee is exposed to such disease.”
The event causing the injury must arise out of and be within the course and scope of the employee’s employment. Generally, the involvement or fault of the employer or employees does not necessarily affect the compensability of an injury; however, no compensation may be allowed if the injury was caused by the employee’s willful intention to injure themselves or others; or due to the injured employee’s intoxication at the time of the injury, unless resulting from activities in pursuit of the employer’s interests or from activities in which the employer procured and encouraged the use of the beverage or substance.
An employee may not be entitled to benefits if he is the aggressor in an unprovoked physical altercation. The employee may not be entitled to benefits if it is determined that he/she was a participant in “horseplay” at the time that the injury occurred. An employer may also not be required to hold a job open for you while you are unable to perform the duties of your job or to create a new job for you when you are able to return to work. However, your employer cannot terminate your employment solely because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance or to be approved to self-insure. All employees in the state of Louisiana are covered from the first day they start employment at a new job. Employees may be full-time, part-time, seasonal, or minors and still be covered by workers’ compensation benefits should any incident happen on the job. Subcontractors and certain independent contractors may be considered employees if they are involved in the pursuit of the employer’s business or if they are performing manual labor; however, the law does contain some exemptions. Domestic employees, most real estate salespersons, uncompensated officers and directors of some types of non-profit organizations, as well as public officials, are specifically exempted from workers’ compensation coverage. Most volunteer workers would also be exempt from collecting these benefits.
If you or a loved one has recently experienced an injury while on the job, it’s important to have experienced personal injury lawyers working on your case to ensure your rights are protected and that you are able to receive the maximum compensation award that you deserve for your hardship. Call Fischer & Manno Law today for a free legal consultation today.