Stratford Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
A job injury can be painful and debilitating, and it can throw you out of work for days, weeks, months or years. When you get hurt on the job, the Connecticut workers’ compensation system is there to make sure you get needed medical treatment and wage replacement while you are disabled from working. Although the process should be relatively straightforward and simple, it isn’t. Workers’ compensation should be guaranteed for workplace injuries, but as employees injured on the job soon find out, employers and their workers’ comp insurance carriers don’t always make it easy to get benefits. Learn more about workers’ compensation below. If you are having trouble getting benefits in Connecticut, or if your claim was denied or your benefits terminated early, call the Stratford workers’ compensation lawyers at Morizio Law Firm to discuss your claim with a Board-Certified Specialist..
- Workers’ Compensation Benefits
- Workers’ Compensation Claims
- Board-Certified Specialists
- Medicare Set-Aside Trusts
- Social Securities Benefits
Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Connecticut workers’ compensation provides medical treatment and wage replacement for employees who have been injured, disabled or killed while performing their jobs. Medical treatment covers all reasonable or necessary treatment, including doctor visits, hospital stays, physical therapy, prescription medicines, surgery or other treatment authorization. Workers’ comp also covers travel to and from your medical appointments. Your employer can either furnish or pay for transportation or reimburse you for your mileage. Medical providers should bill your employer’s workers’ comp carrier directly, and not you. Initially, your employer chooses the doctor you see, but after initial treatment, you can select a doctor from an approved list or of your choosing. If your employer is part of a managed care plan, you’ll need to choose a doctor in the employer’s network if you want workers’ comp to cover the cost.
Wage replacement benefits cover lost wages for temporary or permanent disability. Benefits may be classified as Temporary Total Disability (TTD), Temporary Partial Disability (TPD), Permanent Partial Disability (PPD), or Permanent Total Disability (PTD).
TTD benefits equal 75% of the worker’s average weekly wage (AWW) until the worker reaches maximum medical improvement or for up to 52 weeks. AWW is wages after taxes and social security, subject to statewide minimum and maximum amounts.
TPD means you can work at a different job than your former position, or on restricted or light duty. TPD benefits are 75% of the difference between what you are earning in your new position and your former AWW. You can also get TPD benefits during a job search, as well.
PTD benefits are 75% of AWW, which last for the duration of the disability. PTD means the injury is so severe that you cannot work at all while disabled. Examples of PTD include the loss of use of the arms, legs, hands, feet, or eyes.
The amount and duration of PPD benefits vary according to a schedule established by law. The schedule includes a list of body parts with a total number of weeks benefits could be paid. The doctor assigns a disability rating to the specific body part at issue, and that percentage is multiplied by the maximum number of applicable weeks to determine the duration of benefits. The benefit rate is determined by the employee’s basic compensation rate.
Other benefits that may be available include job retraining and vocational rehabilitation benefits. In the case of disfigurement or scarring, benefits of 75% of AWW may be available for up to 208 weeks. In the case of fatal accidents, death benefits include $4,000 in burial expenses and 75% of AWW paid to a surviving spouse (widow/widower) and/or dependent children.
Workers’ Compensation Will Pay Your Medical Expenses
Recovering from a work-related injury isn’t easy, and having to fight an insurance company for the benefits you need for medical care only makes it harder. At Morizio Law Firm, P.C., we understand the importance of helping employees recover from their physical injuries while protecting them from the financial ramifications of those injuries.
Under Connecticut medical treatment guidelines for work-related injuries, eligible workers who have been hurt at work have a right to collect medical benefits. Employers are responsible for providing the initial medical treatment at a facility or office of their choosing.
To seek thorough medical advice from a doctor you trust, you may be able to change physicians after seeing a doctor chosen by your employer.
Just as it is critical to seek medical care from a doctor to make sure your physical health is being taken care of, it is also essential to seek legal counsel if you are pursuing benefits under Connecticut’s workers’ compensation laws. Our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers will help you understand your options so you can get the appropriate medical care for your situation.
Our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers are board-certified specialists in workers’ compensation. We have an established record of success helping workers seek and secure the medical treatment and benefits they need, including:
- Doctor visits
- Hospital stays
- Physical therapy
- Prescription medications relating to the injury
- Authorizations for medical treatment, including surgery
You May Have A Personal Injury Claim And Workers’ Comp Claim
Workers’ compensation laws are intended to provide essential benefits to workers who are injured in the course of their employment. However, sometimes work-related injuries are caused by another person’s negligence or misconduct.
When this happens, it may be possible to bring a separate claim against the responsible party outside the scope of workers’ compensation. Examples include:
- A negligent driver who causes a motor vehicle accident and injures someone driving in the course of his or her employment
- The manufacturer or distributor of a dangerous product or machine that causes a work-related injury
- A property owner who fails to properly maintain his or her premises, causing a slip-and-fall accident involving an employee
At Morizio Law Firm, P.C., we are committed to helping all victims of work-related injuries pursue fair compensation for their losses. Attorney Lawrence F. Morizio is a board-certified specialist in workers’ compensation law. He has handled virtually every facet of workers’ compensation law and has successfully represented many injured workers pursuing personal injury claims.
Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Laws
Connecticut workers’ compensation law covers just about every worker in the state. However, depending upon your employer, federal workers’ comp laws might cover you instead. Determining which law applies to your workplace accident is a complex matter, which is you need a workers’ compensation specialist who can ascertain which law applies and help you through the appropriate system. See below for some different workers’ compensation laws, and call the Morizio Law Firm for help after an on-the-job injury in Connecticut.
FELA – Compensation for Injured Railroad Workers
The Federal Employee’s Liability Act (FELA) protects injured railroad workers in the U.S. Passed in 1908, FELA predates even state workers’ compensation laws by several years. FELA is also unlike workers’ compensation, where you don’t have to prove fault on the part of your employer, and where your payment is based on a system of scheduled benefits. For a FELA claim, you do generally have to prove negligence, but you can recover a full range of tort damages, including pain and suffering and emotional distress.
FELA covers interstate railroad workers. This includes railroads with trackage in more than one state, trackage between a state and a foreign country, and even wholly intrastate railroads if they carry goods or transship railroad cars in transit in interstate or foreign commerce. Railroads that are wholly owned by the government but are charged as corporations under state law (such as Amtrak) are also covered.
You don’t have to work on a train to be covered by FELA. FELA includes all manner of railroad employees, including train crews, maintenance workers, construction crews, laborers, railroad police officers, and clerks.
FELA claims can be filed in state or federal court, with a three-year time limit (statute of limitations) from the date of injury to file a lawsuit. The worker’s own comparative fault can limit recovery, so it’s important to build a strong case that proves the employer’s negligence while also defending against any allegations that the employee was negligent.
Jones Act – Protecting Seamen
The federal Jones Act, aka the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, protects the rights of maritime workers injured on the job. The Jones Act covers seamen and longshoremen (deckhands, crew members, engineers, fishermen) injured while working on a maritime vessel engaged in maritime commerce transported between U.S. ports. Like workers’ comp, the Jones Act covers medical expenses and wage replacement. However, if you can prove the employer or a crew member’s negligence caused your injury, you can sue for tort damages, including pain and suffering. Additional compensation is available if you can prove the vessel was unseaworthy, and punitive damages are sometimes awarded when the employer wrongfully refused to provide medical care or payment.
LHWCA for Dockworkers and Loaders
If you are a maritime worker who does not qualify as a “seaman” under the Jones Act, you might still be covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). This law provides compensation to dockworkers, loaders, and other maritime workers injured while working on piers, terminals, dry dock facilities, and similar areas on the navigable waters of the U.S. See our page on Maritime Worker Injuries for more information.
Defense Base Act
This law is meant to cover civilian employees working outside the U.S. on military bases or under a contract with the government for public works or national defense, i.e., employees of defense contractors. The Defense Base Act is an extension of the LHWCA for individuals working for private employers on U.S. military bases engaged in construction and service contracts connected to national defense or wartime activities. Benefits include two-thirds of your average weekly wage until you can return to work and are rehired, or suitable jobs exist that you can perform. Benefits are subject to a maximum payment (currently $1,030.78 a week). You have one year from the date of injury or your last payment to file a claim or two years from the discovery of an occupational illness.
Connecticut Workers’ Compensation FAQs
When you get hurt on the job, you’re going to have a lot of questions about your workers’ compensation claim. Morizio Law Firm is here to answer your questions and take all the necessary steps to see that your claim is successful and your benefits are paid fully, appropriately and in a timely fashion. See below for answers to some frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation in Connecticut, and contact Morizio Law Firm if you’ve been hurt in a workplace accident.
Q. Can I choose my own doctor?
A. Initially, your employer designates the doctor or facility where you go for treatment. If you want to change doctors after your initial visit, you can switch to a doctor of your own choosing. If your employer participates in an approved medical plan, you’ll have to choose a doctor within the network to get your treatment covered by workers’ comp. If your employer isn’t participating in an approved plan, you can see any doctor you like. To change doctors, get a referral from your present attending physician, get approval from the workers’ comp insurer, or write to your Workers’ Compensation Commission District Office. Or call Morizio Law Firm, and we’ll take care of this for you.
Q. When do my benefits start?
A. First of all, Connecticut workers’ compensation law requires that you receive your full pay on the day of the injury, regardless of when it happened or how much work you missed that day. As for workers’ compensation wage loss benefits, these do not start until you have been absent from work for more than three days. Benefits start to get paid on day four, but if you are out for seven or more days, then the first three days will be paid retroactively.
Q. What is an IME?
A. IME stands for Independent Medical Examination or Independent Medical Examiner. These days, an IME in Connecticut is officially referred to as an Employer’s/Respondent’s Examination, but this term may be used interchangeably with IME. These exams may be required by the Workers’ Compensation Commission, your employer or their insurance carrier. The employer pays for the exam, which is performed to determine the nature and extent of your injury. It is not done for the purpose of treating you, and a skeptic might say it is done for the purpose of denying your claim or limiting the treatment the insurer will cover. You can have your own doctor present at the exam, but you would have to pay for this expense yourself.
You are required to submit to an exam upon reasonable request, meaning it does not require lengthy or difficult travel to get to. You can request an Informal Hearing before the Commissioner if you think the request is unreasonable. After the exam, the examiner has 30 days to furnish a report. If there is disagreement between the Employer’s/Respondent’s Examination and the treating physician, a Commissioner’s Examination may be called as well.
Q. What if I’ve been injured while working out of state?
A. There are many different kinds of state-to-state issues that can arise in the workers’ compensation context. For example, you could be a non-Connecticut resident who is injured while working inside Connecticut for an out-of-state company. Likewise, you could be a non-Connecticut resident who is injured while working out-of-state for a Connecticut employer. Or you could be a Connecticut resident injured while working out-of-state for a Connecticut employer. Knowing which state’s workers’ compensation law to apply is a complex matter in any of these situations. Luckily, this is a niche area of law that Lawrence Morizio, a Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist, excels in. Call Morizio Law Firm with your particular situation, and we’ll help you figure out where you stand.
Q. Does Connecticut workers’ compensation law address fatal accidents?
A. Yes. Workers’ comp pays $4,000 in funeral/burial expenses. Also, a surviving spouse can receive benefits for the remainder of the spouse’s lifetime or until remarriage, and children can receive benefits up to a certain age. The exact rules depend on the particular mix of surviving spouse, children and dependents in each case. There are also special rules for dependents of police officers, firefighters, and corrections officers.
Q. What does it mean to be board-certified?
A. It means you have demonstrated a degree of competence to be allowed to hold yourself out as an expert or specialist in your field of law. To be board-certified in workers’ compensation, you have to be in practice for at least five years and devote at least 25% of your practice to workers’ comp. You must submit at least five peer references from other attorneys and be in good standing with the bar, including a clean discipline record. Then, you must pass a rigorous, day-long written examination. To maintain board-certification, you must complete ongoing continuing legal education and get recertified every five years.
Morizio Law Firm can Help with Stratford Workers’ Compensation
Stratford workers’ compensation lawyer Lawrence Morizio is a Board-Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation in Connecticut. He can help ensure you get medical treatment and wage replacement, including if your claim is denied or if your benefits are cut off prematurely. For help at any stage of a Connecticut workers’ compensation claim, call Morizio Law Firm, P.C., at 475-338-3505.