Workers’ compensation is a state-run insurance program that provides medical benefits and weekly income to workers who are injured on the job. If you suffer a work injury, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, before you can collect any benefits, you must prove that your injury occurred while you were acting within the course and scope of your employment.
You must also prove that the nature of your duties lead to your injury or illness. Please note that employees who file for workers’ compensation benefits generally cannot sue their employers. The workers’ compensation law is a compromise: the injured worker gets benefits without needing to prove that the employer was at fault; but the benefits are limited.
Workers’ compensation benefits may include lost wage replacement, medical bill payments, vocational rehabilitation, and payment for permanent impairments.
If you become disabled because of a work injury, you are entitled to a weekly check to help replace your lost wages. Under New Hampshire law, if you are totally disabled from working, you are entitled to a weekly check from the insurance carrier equal to 60 percent of your gross average weekly wage. Your average weekly wage is normally calculated by reviewing the last 52 weeks of paychecks you received before your injury. If you are partially disabled, you may be entitled to smaller partial benefits. You do not have to pay income taxes on these weekly checks.
As long as medical services are directly related to the workplace injury and are reasonable and necessary, the insurance carrier is supposed to pay for them. These medical services generally include doctor’s appointments, hospital charges, prescriptions, and medical devices. You will also be reimbursed for mileage to and from the doctors’ offices. The insurance company has 30 days to review a bill. If they refuse to pay the bill, you have the right to request a hearing at the Department of Labor.
If you are unable to return to your occupation because of your illness or injury, the insurance company may be required to hire a vocational rehabilitation specialist. You may also have the right to have your employer provide light duty work to you. In addition, in most cases, your employer is required to keep your job open for 18 months.
If your doctor determines you have a permanent impairment, you are entitled to a certain sum of money depending on the extent of your injury. Your permanency award is determined according to the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.