All Delaware employers must provide benefits to their employees if they are injured on the job or develop an occupational illness. However, there are important steps you should take to ensure a fair outcome in your case. It is wise to involve an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to ensure you get your full Workers’ Compensation benefits as promptly as possible and to explore compensation from third parties who contributed to your workplace injury.
Our Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow have a wealth of experience in handling workplace accident cases ensuring you receive your benefits, financial compensation, lost income, medical bills coverage, and in the worst case, a wrongful death settlement.
Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault insurance program that most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in Delaware. It is a federally mandated program, however, it is administered by each individual state, and as such, it can vary from state to state. The Delaware Department of Labor’s Industrial Accident Board manages the program in this state to ensure injured workers receive workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries.
The primary benefit of this insurance is that it provides compensation for employees who have been injured while working regardless of whether the accident was their fault. In exchange for this benefit, the employee agrees not to file a claim against their employer.
The state requires that all employers with one or more employees carry Workers’ Compensation. They can face severe financial penalties if they fail to do so. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Among the exceptions are employers of farm workers and independent contractors. The latter can be particularly complicated, as it is sometimes difficult to determine if an employee is an independent contractor or not. Many companies will attempt to misclassify their employees to avoid paying benefits.
Your Delaware workers’ compensation lawyers will help determine your employment status to know what benefits are available to you. If you are not able to claim workers’ compensation benefits, you may have legal options including a personal injury claim for your work injury.
We have helped clients secure ongoing benefits or disability settlements for all types of workplace injuries, including:
Back and neck injuries
Broken bones and serious lacerations
Burns, explosions, or electrical shock
Construction accident injuries
Falling accident injuries
Traumatic brain injuries
Knee and shoulder injuries
Occupational diseases or illnesses, such as toxic exposure and hearing damage
Repetitive stress injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar neuropathy
Scaffolding accident injuries
Motor vehicle accidents
There are numerous ways that employers and their Workers’ Compensation insurance company can deprive employees of their rightful benefits. We stand up for clients whose claims are denied or short-changed. Our workers’ compensation attorneys help clients negotiate lump-sum settlements for disability or permanent impairment.
Workers’ Compensation will cover your major economic expenses, however, it will not compensate you for non-economic expenses. Workers’ Compensation will cover the following:
Medical expenses: The insurance will cover all of your medical expenses associated with your injury, including treatment, medications, and mileage reimbursement.
Lost wages: If you are forced to miss time from work due to your injuries, Workers’ Compensation will compensate you for a portion of your lost wages. The compensation comes out to be just under 67 percent of your gross weekly wages. If you are receiving reduced wages, the benefit is two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wage.
Benefits will also cover those who sustain permanent disabilities due to their injuries. They can either receive a lump-sum payment or recurring payments. It will also provide compensation for the family of an employee who was killed while at work. These death benefits will also include funeral expenses.
Those who are injured on the job should be covered under Workers’ Compensation. Illnesses are also covered if someone becomes sick due to chemicals they inhaled at work or from other work-related hazards. A workers’ compensation attorney can best advise injured workers on the claims process so they can receive maximum compensation.
As soon as you are injured, you should notify your employer about your injury. Most employers have a form for you to fill out. If you can fill this out right away, you should do so as soon as you are physically able to return to the office to fill it out. You will have 90 days to report the accident and injury or within six months of learning that an illness is from work.
Reporting the accident will get the entire process started. From there, your employer will then have 10 days to file a First Report of Occupational Injury or Disease with their Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier. They must also notify their Workers’ Compensation insurance provider who will investigate the claim and decide to either accept or deny the claim.
If the claim is accepted, you will sign an agreement with your employer about obtaining benefits. This will entail how the appropriate benefits will be paid out as well as the overall amount. Even if your claim is accepted, a Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyer may be able to negotiate on your behalf to ensure you get the amount you are owed.
If your claim is denied, you can file a petition with the Delaware Office of Workers’ Compensation for a hearing before the Industrial Accident Board. The time limit for this is two years for most injuries and one year from the date you discovered your occupational illness. A workers’ compensation lawyer is essential at this stage to fight for your rights.
The Industrial Accident Board will then conduct a hearing before deciding on whether to accept or deny the claim. You have multiple levels of appeal from this point if the Board also denies your claim. You can first go to the Superior Court within 30 days. Then, your option is the State Supreme Court, which you must also file your appeal within 30 days of the previous ruling.
In the moments following your workplace accident, there are certain steps that you should take to ensure your recovery and protect your Workers’ Compensation claim. The steps you should take following your accident include:
Get medical help: You should be evaluated by a doctor after your accident. Your accident might require immediate medical attention. If it does not, you should see a doctor as soon as possible as certain injuries can linger unnoticed unless treated right away. Delaware does not require that you see a doctor mandated by your employer to qualify for Workers’ Compensation, although they may ask you to see an impartial doctor to confirm your doctor’s diagnosis.
Report your accident: When you can either immediately after your accident or after you receive medical attention, report your accident to your employer. This will get the formal process started for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.
Collect any evidence: If you receive any resistance from your employer or their insurance carrier, you want to ensure that you have the evidence to back up your claim. Take pictures of the location of your accident, including any conditions that might have contributed to your injury. Also, get a copy of your timecard to verify that you were working at the time of the accident.
Talk to witnesses: Speak with anyone who might have seen the accident and can verify your version of events. Get their statements and their contact information in case your workers’ compensation lawyer needs to speak with them again.
After your accident, you should consult with our Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyers who can lead you through the process and protect your rights.
If you have been injured at work or have an occupational illness, speak with one of our Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Call us at (302) 427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Wilmington, Newark, Milford, and Lewes. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.