The workers’ compensation system originated at the end of the 18th century as part of the progressive movement. In an era when factory safety standards didn’t exist, it was an attempt to ensure that factory workers injured at work received appropriate medical care and compensation for permanent crippling injuries.
The first person you deal with—and the person to whom you owe primary responsibility—is the patient. The workers’ compensation patient deserves the same level of diligent care you provide to any other patient.
In the workers’ compensation system, the employer is typically required by statute to maintain workers’ compensation insurance and the insurer is usually responsible for paying for the injured worker’s medical care, rehabilitation, and other expenses.
Although the workers’ compensation system was designed to relieve the injured worker of the responsibility of proving in court that his or her injury resulted from an employer’s negligence, it didn’t eliminate the role of lawyers. Many law firms specialize in representing either patients or employers in workers’ compensation cases.
The state agency that administers workers’ compensation programs may be called the industrial commission or have another name. This agency holds hearings on disputed claims and adjudicates compensability and final disability. Commissioners will rely on your deposition testimony and your office notes for the facts of the case (so you should make sure you know what’s in your records before you testify, and be ready to explain any contradictions).
April 2008 Issue