Workplace injuries can complicate the already complex recovery process. You may find yourself out of work, facing serious medical bills. In Washington D.C., the process of receiving Workers' Compensation is complicated and often entirely unfamiliar for most individuals. It may feel like no one is on your side, and your employer expects you to somehow have knowledge of the process without ever having been injured at work before.
Workers' Compensation: At A Glance
Workers' Compensation is the primary form of resolving disputes involving workplace injuries. It exists in order to fulfill an employer's obligation to compensate its employees for any and all injuries sustained while on the job. In Washington D.C., Workers' Compensation will cover up to 2/3 of your salary and 100% of your medical expenses for an injury. Workers' Compensation is paid out at a specific rate that is particular to your case. The minimum and maximum rates of payment will fluctuate each year. These rates are available on the Department of Employment Services website.
To receive Workers' Compensation, you must file a Workers' Compensation claim. Your employer should make it very clear to you how to do so when you are injured, and should assist you in the process. Employers are required by law to inform their employees of the steps and processes necessary to obtain Workers' Compensation coverage and benefits.
When You Are Injured On The Job in D.C.
If you have been injured on the job, there are several steps you should take. First, you should report your injuries to your employer, if this has not already happened. Next you will need to report your injuries to the Office of Workers' Compensation. The specific form to do this is known as a DCWC Form 7. A copy of this form must be filed with your employer, with the original being sent to the Office of Workers' Compensation. Another form, the DCWC Form 7A, must be filed within one year after the incident in order to continue receiving benefits. There are some important rights you should also be aware of when beginning the Workers' Compensation process:
- Suing Your Employer: Washington D.C. requires workplace injury cases to be resolved through Workers' Compensation, rather than taking legal action against your employer.
- Choosing A Physician: You will have the right to choose your own physician. If your injury required hospitalization, your employer will send you to the hospital, however you are free to have a doctor of your choosing afterward. Typically, you may not change your physician once you have selected one, without approval from you employer's insurance carrier.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: If you are not able to return to your original job, you are entitled to receive vocational rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation is a specialized program designed to help you get back on your feet and into new employment.
- Requesting a Conference or Formal Hearing: If you have any dispute on any matters with your Workers' Compensation claim you are able to request an informal conference or even a formal hearing to get a resolution.
- The Right to an Attorney: You have the right to be represented by an attorney throughout the entire Workers' Compensation process.
Washington D.C. Workers' Comp Hearings
The Department of Employment Services is the organization responsible for adjudicating Worker's Compensation in Washington D.C. If you wish to go to a hearing for your Worker's Compensation claim dispute, you must first file a application for hearing through the Department of Employment Services website. This application must also be sent to the opposing party.
The next step is receiving a Scheduling Order that provides the date of the hearing as well as procedural deadlines. If you fail to comply with the scheduling order, your application may be dismissed. At a hearing, evidence and testimony will be presented and reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge, who will also decide upon a ruling for the case. In the event of an unfavorable outcome, you may appeal the decision to the Compensation Review Board within 30 calendar days of the hearing.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
Your employer will most certainly have a lawyer to represent them for your claim. There is no reason you should not enlist the aid of an attorney as well. You will want an attorney who will fight for your rights as the injured party. Legal representation can help you obtain better results from you hearing. Your employer's insurance carrier will want to give you as little as possible, and whatever lawyer accompanies them into the hearing room will see to just that. Having an attorney at your hearing will greatly increase the chances of a compromise or a decision that works in your favor.
If you or a loved one has been injured while on the job, you will want an attorney who is ready to fight for what you deserve in court. Contact Gilman & Bedigian today for your free consultation.