I Was Injured on the Job
Caveat: never file a fraudulent workmen compensation claim! We've all heard tales and narratives, either from friends, acquaintances, neighbors, etc., who told us a story about someone who was injured on the job and who received 6-7 figures in monetary compensation -- very seldom is this true. Facts are, it's very difficult to receive a lot of money from a workmen compensation injury. True, 25-30 years ago, many hospitals and doctors didn't adhere to fee schedules, hence it was easy to charge exuberant amounts of money to treat patients, but this is not the case nowadays. Today, most hospitals and doctors adhere to fee schedule and contracts, and oftentimes that $50k bill ends up being paid pennies on the dollar. So, to wrap up this capsule: don't file a fraudulent workmen compensation claim; it's not worth it! (you could also serve jail time, if caught)
Not only has Covid changed our way of life -- perhaps forever?.... Covid 19 may be something of a challenge to report as an injury to your employer, though should be feasible nonetheless. We must eventually return back to work -- whether we want to or not -- but we should always keep work safety as a priority. However, if you work for a restaurant, hotel, bar, etc., and you contact Covid while on the job, you should be entitled to report the claim/injury. After all, it occurred on the job, just as if you had fallen down a ladder or had another similar bodily injury. Important note: many employers share responsibilities with their workmen compensation insurance carrier i.e. after Discovery Period concludes, the workmen compensation insurance carrier may feel the employer to be responsible for the claim instead of them or vice versa. Furthermore, some employers are at 50/50 contract with their workmen compensation carriers to pay 50% of the claim, though many -- arguably most -- have full coverage, making their workmen compensation insurance carrier responsible to pay for the entire workmen compensation claim.
Reporting the Injury
Another important caveat: always report a workmen compensation injury -- no matter how minuscule and lackluster you might think the injury is. Allow me to explain. Let's say a heavy book falls on your hand, or you slip, but catch yourself before hitting the floor, etc. You say to yourself, "nothing happened, so why bother?!" Well, for the sake of arguing, let's say you're 60 years old and a bit on the heavy side (just trying to put together a hypothetical/scenario). You're now home from work. The injury happened earlier during the day, while you were working. You happen to live in one of the northern states locals (Chicago, New York City, Detroit) and it's now 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Earlier, when you were injured, oftentimes your body heats up after the injury, which at times shields your bones from the pain, so your discomfort isn't as prevalent. Now comes the real quencher. It's the following morning and you must get ready to go to work, but you're in excruciating pain. How'd it look if you call your boss and say, "I can't go to work today, because my foot hurts a great deal, due to an injury at work yesterday." How do you think your boss is going to reply, "Injury?! I don't recall you notifying me about an injury yesterday?!" He/she will think all sorts of things -- one of which most likely will be, "is he/she trying to pull one on us?!" I used the older hypothetical/scenario, because most of us -- present company included -- could've probably walked away from an injury when we were 25 years old, that now at 60 years old, we may not be able to easily walk away from. So, it's very important to always report any workmen compensation injury; it's not 'rocket science'. All you need to do, is approach your supervisor after the injury takes place, and just say, "I just had a work accident and would like to report it." He/she will make you fill out an initial claim form and send you to be seen by a company doctor aka the employer's doctor in law. Earlier, I was discussing Covid 19. This may be, as they say, 'a different talk show'. However, just like any other work injury, it'll be put through a Discovery Period and if it shows that you contracted Covid 19 from a customer or a co-worker, then it's a workmen compensation claim just like any other, and it'll be treated/classified as such.
If you don't report an initial claim, it'll be a AOC/COE claim. This is a legal term to denote a claim not clear how or where the injury took place. Attorneys and w/comp carriers will argue as to whether or not this injury happened at work, or elsewhere?... Bad for claimant, because it's considered a disputed claim and monetary value would then be much less than with an accepted claim. Moral of the story: always report a work injury immediately after it happens. Do not wait!
What Happens Afterwards?
Workmen compensation claims could take a long time to settle i.e., for you to receive your money. Some cases have taken 15 years to finalize, although nowadays judges have become more expeditious; however, it's not unlikely for some cases to take 5 years, and that's being optimistic. The first thing to do is to get medical treatment for your injury, while at the same time seeking counsel. We're lucky today with the internet and social media. You don't need to speak with an attorney. All you need to do is search for attorneys online, go to the practice's website, and email your narrative to the attorney. He/she will study your case and then get back to you either via phone or email to let you know how to proceed next. If they think your case is worth it, they'll probably schedule an appointment with you in person, or oftentimes much of these things can be done over the phone or via email, so you won't need to leave the comfort of your home.
Being injured at work isn't something any of us wants to have to go through. But it's not as scary or complicated as some of us think it is. Like all else, it's a process.