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Frequently asked questions about workers' compensation

Employees who are injured at work might need considerable medical care, as well as time off work during the healing process. For these individuals, the workers' compensation system can provide valuable benefits that can help them in considerable ways.

The benefits that the workers' compensation system provides can be indispensable. There are several different things that workers might qualify for, but they should understand some of the most basic points about the system.

Are all injuries handled the same?

There are two primary classifications for injuries -- catastrophic and non-catastrophic. Something that prevents workers from doing their jobs and also stops them from being able to earn a suitable living is a catastrophic injury. Some examples of this include severe burns, paralysis, spinal cord injuries and blindness. A non-catastrophic injury is one that isn't as serious, but that still impacts a person's ability to earn a living.

What kinds of benefits are available?

You might receive coverage for the medical care that you need in connection with the injury. It can also cover partial wage replacement up to two-thirds of your average weekly income. There are time limits that apply to the wage replacement benefits. These are based on the area of your body that was injured and the severity of the injury.

When do the payments start?

There is a seven-day holding period on payments. You won't be paid for those first seven days unless you have to miss 21 consecutive days of work. The initial check will usually be mailed within 21 days after the first day of missed work.

What types of medical care are covered?

Authorized medical bills will be paid. These include those for emergency care, even if that care wasn't provided by an approved doctor that is listed by your employer. Hospital bills, physical therapy, rehabilitation and prescriptions might all be covered. You may also receive reimbursement for travel expenses you incur to receive medical care.

What should employees do if they are injured?

The first thing you need to do is to alert your employer of your injury. You should do this right away, but you have 30 days to get it done. Your employer should have a list of six doctors you can see through the workers' compensation program. Go see one of these if you can, but you can go to the emergency room if that is necessary. Make sure that you read all correspondence related to your claim so you know if you need to take any action.

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