Washington DC boasts a booming economy with amazing career opportunities in the federal government, professional services, technology, media, hospitality, and tourism. Unfortunately, no matter what DC industry you decide to enter, there is always a chance you could be hurt at work. If you are an employee who suffered a workplace injury, then you have rights to compensation. The DC Workers’ compensation program is a no-fault insurance system where money is paid to an employee who is injured on the job. While some cases of work injuries can be cut and dry, many are complex and it is to your benefit to have a seasoned workers' compensation lawyer by your side.
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The District of Columbia’s Workmen’s Compensation Act was passed on May 17, 1928. The act ensures that employees’ medical needs and lost wages are covered in the event of a workplace accident. Workers’ compensation is meant to protect both the employer and the employee. Employers pay for the workers’ compensation coverage and in return, an employee cannot directly sue their boss if they are injured on the job.
It is required, by law, for Washington DC employers to obtain workers’ compensation insurance when they open their business. As an employee of a business located in Washington DC, you should be eligible for workers’ comp benefits if you meet the following requirements:
According to the National Safety Council, the three most common nonfatal work injuries in the United States are:
Overexertion and bodily reactions: These injuries are from straining physical work, like lifting, pushing, carrying, or throwing. If you are in an industry where you are on your feet all day, have to repeat the same motions over and over, or are dealing with heavy equipment, you will be exposed to more injuries related to overexertion.
Slips, trips, and falls: These injuries happen when a worker slips or falls in their place of work. It could be on the same level, or on multiple levels. For example, if you are a construction worker you may have fallen from a collapsing structure, or a ladder.
Contact with objects or equipment: These accidents occur when a moving object hits a worker, a part of a worker’s body is pinched or crushed in equipment, or when a worker is caught in collapsing structures or equipment. If you work as a car mechanic, for example, there is a risk of being injured while working on the vehicle equipment.
In Washington DC, the most common fatal workplace injuries are transportation incidents. Heavy trucks and tractor trailer drivers had the highest rate of fatalities, followed by construction workers, and agricultural workers.
There are a number of other ways to be severely injured at work. No matter how it happened, you have the right to compensation. The workplace accident lawyers at Regan Zambri Long PLLC have handled workers’ compensation claims with various injuries and can help you secure the maximum compensation.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be intimidating. You’re trying to cope with being injured, possibly out of work, and then have to navigate through what seems like an endless amount of paperwork on top of it. This is where the Regan Zambri Long PLLC work injury lawyers can help. Your attorney will take care of the paperwork for you so you can focus on a full recovery.
In order to be successful in your DC workers’ compensation claim, the following steps need to be taken:
If this paperwork is not filled out in time, you may forfeit your right to workers’ comp benefits. Document all medical expenses and treatment related to your injury. There are cases when the employer tries to downplay the injury. Seeking medical attention immediately will not only ensure your health and safety following the accident, but will also help with your compensation claim.
You have the right to collect workers’ comp benefits. Workers’ compensation coverage will provide reasonable and necessary medical and disability benefits as a result of a work injury. Medical coverage includes:
Disability benefits include:
You have the right to your own doctor. If your employer tries to pressure you into seeing an approved doctor, contact a Regan Zambri Long PLLC workplace accident attorney right away. You have the right to choose your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of the workplace injury.
You have the right to negotiate a lump sum settlement. A lump sum settlement is when the employee is paid their benefits in one large payment, rather than being paid ongoing weekly benefits. Your work injury lawyer will be able to advise you on the best strategy to receive your compensation benefits.
You have the right to appeal a denied workers’ compensation claim. If your claim is denied, you have the right to request an informal conference or formal hearing. You have the right to an attorney in the appeals process.
A: Medical bills are completely covered under the Washington DC workers’ compensation system. All medical expenses related to your work injury will be compensated. Disability payments will equal about two-thirds of your average weekly wage prior to your injury.
A: Unreasonable delay is when the employer or their insurance carrier delays workers’ comp payments to its employee in bad faith. When this happens, the employer can be forced to pay the worker their actual weekly salary in addition to any compensation due and payable during the period of delay.
A: Yes, you can. The DC Workers’ Compensation system is a no-fault insurance policy, meaning, if you are injured at work or in the course of your job duties, you are entitled to receive compensation regardless of fault. However, there are certain situations where you can be denied benefits. If you have self-inflicted injuries or if your injury occurred when you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your employer may deny benefits.
A: Hiring a work injury lawyer is always beneficial to the employee because it gives you a guaranteed legal advocate who will make sure your rights are protected at every step of the workers’ compensation process. Injuries that are clearly work related, such as being caught or hit by moving machinery in a factory, are not usually disputed by insurance companies. However, there are cases that are not as clearly-cut and you can run into roadblocks while trying to receive compensation.
If your workers’ compensation was denied for any of the following reasons, contact the workplace accident lawyers at Regan Zambri Long PLLC for a free consultation. They will help you determine the best ways to move forward:
Washington DC is an at-will District, meaning an employer can fire an employee at any time, for any reason. The same goes for the employee – an employee can quit a job at any time, for any reason. However, even though DC is an at-will District, Washington DC employees are still protected against any form of discrimination, including any form of retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Common forms of employer retaliation are:
Employer retaliation, especially wrongful termination is illegal. If you suspect your employer is retaliating against you for filing a workers’ comp claim, contact a Regan Zambri Long PLLC work accident lawyer immediately. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of your situation and help you recover damages for:
A: If your workers’ compensation claim is initially denied, the Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC) will investigate the claim. An informal conference may be held to try to reach an agreement between the employer and employee.
If an agreement cannot be reached at the informal conference, the party who disagrees has 14 business days to notify the OWC and file for a formal hearing within 34 business days. The case will then be brought in front of a judge who will conduct a hearing and issue a Compensation Order.
If there is still a dispute after the formal hearing, you have 30 days to file an Application For Review with the Compensation Review Board. Past the Review Board, you may appeal to the DC Court of Appeals within 30 days.