Most people have either experienced a job-related injury, or know someone who has suffered one. What a worker can expect to receive for a job-related injury at settlement depends on a number of factors including whether the injury is a state worker's compensation claim, or if the injury falls under a law governed by federal statutes.
Federal Job Injury Claims
Certain job injuries are governed by federal laws. There are two federal statutes that provide for workers involved in certain interstate commerce activities: The Jones Act covers maritime job injuries that occur on our waterways, and The Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA) provides for workers injured while working in the interstate railroad industry.
Settlement Damages Under the Federal Acts
Under FELA and the Jones Act, injured interstate commerce employees are entitled to benefits outlined in the federal statutes. All medical costs are paid. A weekly benefit is paid to the injured employee while he is unable to work. Other damages typically awarded in personal injury claims may be awarded.
Traditional State Worker's Compensation
In the majority of work-related injuries, injured workers will qualify for state worker's compensation. All states provide for their injured workers, and though each state has different laws, they all provide the same basic benefits. The employer pays for all medical costs, and issues a weekly check while the employee is unable to work, as specified in each state's statute. If the injury is permanent, then an additional sum has to be paid to the employee for permanent disability.
State worker's compensation claims do not provide for traditional tort damages such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, etc.
Factors in a Permanent Disability Award
In any job injury where there is a permanent impairment, the extent of the impairment must be addressed by medical professionals who are required to assess the employee's permanent restrictions and physical limitations. A vocational expert will then interview the employee, and based upon the employee's education, work experience and job opportunities in his locale, will assess the employee's future loss of earning capacity.
A Final Thought
A job injury can be a devastating for an employee and his family to endure. Fortunately, there are laws in place to provide protection and financial support to most employees unfortunate enough to suffer job-related injuries.
- Benjamin L. Taylor, Attorney
- Michael L. Frayser, Attorney